A Cruise to Murder
(All disclaimers apply)
Steve Sloan carefully juggled his morning paper and a box of jelly donuts as he tried to set a carafe of coffee down on the patio table. "Ouch!"He yelled, as he stumbled, and a drop of coffee burned his hand. "Just what I need, 3rd degree burns to go along with this lousy headache."
"A little early in the morning to be waking up the neighbors, isn't it?" chuckled Mark Sloan as he joined his son on the deck.
"Morning Dad," Steve replied as he sat down to his breakfast.
"How's your head this morning?" asked Mark as he looked over his son's choice of nourishment and reached for his mug to pour himself a cup of coffee. "Headache any better?"
"You would think after spending two days in the hospital and a week sitting out on this deck that I'd be feeling better."
"Steve, that wasn't just a little bump on the head. It takes time. Do you want me to tell you what you really need?" Mark asked his son.
"Am I going to like this?" said Steve as he reached for his second donut and the sports page.
"You need to get away. A change in scenery will do you a world of good.
Steve," Mark continued, "you went through a very traumatic ordeal. You were kidnapped for God's sake. You need a vacation."
"Dad, I still can't believe they mistook me for some guy on TV. I mean, if it were a real person that I can understand. We all have a double somewhere in this world, but a television character?" Steve took a sip of coffee and continued, "What is this world coming too. At least we killed two birds with one stone and we were able to nab them for the jewelry store robbery. Talk about luck, good thing you had an emergency at the hospital and Jesse had to ride home with me to pick up his car. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't have made a connection between the robbery and my kidnapping so quickly."
Mark nodded his head in agreement; "We have a lot to thank our young friend for. I cringe to think what would have happened to you if we hadn't found you so quickly."
Steve gave his father a knowing look. "Don't go there Dad, it's over and done with. The sooner I get rid of this headache, the sooner I'll be able to put the entire ordeal behind me."
"Which is why I think a vacation is a good idea. Chief Masters gave you a month's sick leave, take advantage of it." Glancing at his watch, Mark said, "I don't have to be at the hospital until eleven. There's plenty of time for me to drive you over to the travel agency. Look through their brochures, it's a wonderful time of the year to travel. Doctors orders."
Steve looked at his father and pondered the idea for a moment. "Well, I guess it can't hurt, I haven't been on a real vacation in years. It might be just the thing to take my mind off the last few weeks. Give me a minute to get ready. Hmm… I'm starting to like this idea already."
Mark walked into the doctor's lounge, pulled out a chair and sat down next to his friends Amanda Bentley and Jesse Travis. "I see you had a busy morning in the ER."
Jesse nodded his head tiredly; "Five car pile-up and a drive by shooting kept us busy most of the morning."
Amanda turned to Mark, "How is Steve today?"
"His headaches aren't any better," Mark answered. "I increased his Midrin, that should help."
"He must be going stir crazy," Amanda said. "The Steve we know is not used to sitting around all day."
"Too bad there isn't anything we can do to keep his mind off things," Jesse added.
"Well actually, he's going to take a vacation. I suggested he get away for a few days. I drove him down to the travel agency and he booked a Hawaiian Islands cruise. He'll fly to Oahu, spend two days at a hotel on Waikiki and then take a seven day cruise around the islands."
"Oh man!" Jesse whined. "Hawaii? I've always wanted to go to Hawaii."
"It's beautiful, Jesse." Amanda had a faraway look in her eyes as she remembered her trip with Colin. Although they divorced last year, she still had fond memories of their time together. "I've always wanted to go back." Amanda turned to Mark, "When is Steve leaving?"
"Friday," Mark answered. "I'm going to go pick up his tickets later this afternoon."
"You know," Jesse said with a glint in his eye. "It would be a shame to let poor Steve travel all that way without his friends to keep an eye on him. I have vacation time coming to me, and you," he said pointing to Amanda, "haven't had a vacation since CJ was born. I say we all go to Hawaii. I have a few days off next week; I'll just work something out with Tom. He owes me big time. Come on Amanda, what do you say?"
"What do I say? Jesse, I have a three-year-old to think about. I'm not going to leave him with my mom for two weeks while Colin is on maneuvers. You go and have a good time."
Jesse turned back to Mark. "What about you, Mark? When's the last time you went away to relax and don't count that convention in San Diego."
"It has been a long time, hasn't it. The travel agent did say there were a few cabins still available." Mark turned to Amanda, "Why not bring CJ with you. Cruise lines cater to kids nowadays. He would have a great time and it'll give you a chance to relax as well."
"When are you picking up Steve's tickets?" Amanda asked.
"At four," Mark replied. "Check with your schedules. If you can work it out, let me know by two. I'll give the agent a call and tell her to hold three more cabins."
Jesse looked passed Mark and spotted his friend Tom. "There's Tom now, be right back."
Jesse got up and hurried after his friend as Mark faced Amanda.
"What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking that I haven't had a vacation in ages, CJ would love to go on a big
Boat, and since I am the department head there shouldn't be a scheduling problem. I'm also thinking; I haven't a thing to wear." Mark laughed as Jesse came back into the lounge.
"Everything is set! Tom and Andy are going to cover for me. Get on the phone Mark, before those cabins disappear."
"I have a great idea," Amanda said as she smiled mischievously. "Let's not tell Steve. Let's surprise him at the airport."
Jesse laughed, "Oh he'll be surprised alright. Mark we'll meet you at the travel agency at four. Hawaii, here we come!"
"Hi guys," Steve said, when he looked up and saw Amanda, CJ, and Jesse walk in with his father. "What brings you out here at this time of day? Jesse, I thought the ER couldn't run without you?"
"Very funny," Jesse replied. "Mark invited us back for an early dinner."
Steve turned to his dad, "Well, did you pick it up?"
Mark reached into to his pocket, "Right here." He walked over to Steve and handed him a bulky envelope. "Everything is in there; airline ticket, hotel reservation, car rental, and boarding pass for your cruise. I'll drive you to the airport on my way to the hospital Friday morning."
"Dad, the airport is not on your way to the hospital. I can take the airport limo. You know how brutal the traffic is on the 405 at that time of the morning."
Mark waved him off as he opened the refrigerator and pulled out a plate of pork chops already marinated and ready for the grill, "Indulge your father why don't you. It's not a problem. I have a light schedule Friday."
"Steve," Amanda said as she unpacked some of CJ's toys, "Mark mentioned that he had to increase your Midrin. Has it helped your headache?"
"It's better Amanda, thanks." Steve picked up CJ and continued, "I finally got it through my head that it will take time to heal. That's why I'm glad Dad talked me into taking this vacation. Maybe if I get away I won't feel so cooped up."
"You are going to have a great time, Steve. Think about it; Waikiki, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Pali Lookout, Sunset Beach, Iolani Palace," Jesse took a breath and continued, "luaus, hula dancers, Don Ho… and that's before you even get on the ship."
"Sounds like you want to go in my place, Jess," said Steve, as he put CJ down and helped Amanda set the table.
"Don't I wish!" said Jesse with a hint of laughter in his voice. "Some of us do have to work you know."
"If it makes you feel any better Jess, I promise I won't visit all those places until we can all take a trip to Hawaii together. Who knows, maybe one day if we plan it far enough in advance we can get our schedules to match and take that trip. Happy now?"
"Get our schedules to jive? That'll be the day," said Jesse, as he winked at Amanda and Mark.
Steve opened the passenger door to his father's Saab and easily eased himself down into the comfortable leather seat. He was buckling his seatbelt as Mark checked the lock on the front door one last time. Mark grinned to himself as he remembered the lengths he, Amanda and Jesse had gone to the past two days to keep the fact from Steve that he wasn't going to be traveling alone. He recalled his conversation with Amanda last night when they decided to meet at the airport and that she would pick Jesse up.
"Dad, you checked that lock three times" Steve remarked to his father. "If I didn't know any better I'd think you were going on this trip with me."
"Just double checking the locks the way I always do." Mark replied as he settled into the driver's seat. You know how I am."
"Sorry Dad, nothing wrong with being too careful. I should know."
"Do you have your itinerary with you?" asked Mark as he eased his car into the flow of traffic.
"Yes I do, Dad. You asked me the same question last night when you saw me put my tickets in my jacket pocket." Steve tapped his jacket so his father could hear the muffled sound of paper hitting material. "See?"
Father and son rode in silence as they took in the beautiful sight of a California sunrise. Mark finally came to the airport exit and found the turn off lane leading to the departing gate terminal. He eased his car to an empty spot at curbside and waited while Steve pulled his luggage from the back seat.
"Thanks Dad, I really appreciate you dropping me off."
"Have a great time son, take it easy and relax. Did you remember to pack your meds?"
"They're right here, in my pocket. Take it easy Dad, see you next week." Steve picked up his luggage and walked toward the curbside ticket agent. He turned one more time and waved as his father pulled back out into the flow of traffic.
"Now to find the long term parking garage," Mark thought out loud. Amanda had said she was going to park on the third level and they would wait for him by the elevator. He glanced at his watched and smiled. He had plenty of time. Mark picked up his parking ticket and slowly drove up to the third level. He spotted Amanda's Cherokee and pulled into a spot a few spaces away. Jesse was already taking the luggage out of the trunk and Amanda was holding on to CJ's hand.
"Morning everyone," Mark said as he opened his trunk and took out his luggage. "Beautiful day for flying."
"Perfect timing," said Jesse. Let's get this show on the road."
"Mark, does Steve suspect anything," asked Amanda as they entered the elevator.
"Not a thing, I dropped him off at curbside, said my good-byes and left."
"I can't believe it, somebody pinch me, we're actually going to Hawaii," said Jesse as they made their way to the check-in counter.
After the task of checking in was completed, the group followed the signs to Gate 55. Steve was busy reading his latest issue of Dirt Bike so he didn't see his father and friends enter the gate area. He jumped with surprise when CJ bounced into his lap.
"Uncle Steve, Uncle Steve, look big plane. We go bye-bye."
Mark, Jesse and Amanda laughed at the expression on Steve's face.
"How? When? What's going on guys?"
"We decided that we couldn't let you go all the way to Hawaii by yourself. Besides," said Jesse, "How much fun can a cruise be when you don't have anyone to hang around with."
"Oh, I think I would have managed, Jesse," said Steve as he rolled his eyes.
"You're not upset that we decided to come along, are you son?"
"Not at all Dad. It'll be nice to have some company. Especially this little guy's" said Steve as he ruffled CJ's hair. "How were you able to arrange your schedules so quickly?"
"I guess it was just meant to be, son. We all have been working hard and this gave us a good excuse to get away."
The loudspeaker announcing the pre-boarding of their flight interrupted Mark. Everyone took out their boarding passes, gathered up their carry-on luggage and slowly made their way to the gangway that would lead them on a 10 day adventure that they would soon not forget.
"Mark, I know you live on the beach, but isn't this a great view?" said Jesse as he walked into Mark's room and opened the sliding glass doors leading out to the balcony. "Diamond Head is over there on your left, we have Waikiki Beach right in front of us, and check this out, there's a helicopter pad over on your right."
"I agree, Jess. It is spectacular. Are you settled in already? Where are Steve and Amanda?"
"Amanda took CJ down to the beach. See, there they are. HEY AMANDA!" Jesse shouted as he pointed out Amanda and CJ playing near the water. Amanda looked up and waved at Jesse. "I popped in on Steve, he was getting ready to lie down for a bit. He said he was feeling a little tired"
"Oh good, the Midrin is helping, but I'm glad he's not overdoing it. So, my friend, what's on your agenda today?"
"Need you ask? I'm going to rent me a surfboard and hit the waves. Just look at them Mark, a surfer's paradise. What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to check on Steve, then go for a stroll through the marketplace. I can't believe how much things have changed since the last time I was here."
"Well, time's a wasting, I'll catch up with you later" said Jesse as he headed back to his room.
Mark finished putting a few more things away and headed for Steve's hotel room.
"Steve," Mark called out as he knocked on his door.
"Hold on, be right there." Steve opened the door to let his father in and Mark could see the fatigue in his son's eyes.
"Long day, son?"
"You know how it is Dad. Different time zone, long hours on a plane. It's enough to tire anyone out. I'm just going to relax a bit, maybe go for a walk later on before we meet for dinner."
"Good idea son, I'm heading over to the marketplace on Kalakaua Avenue. See you in a bit. Don't forget to take your pill."
"Don't worry, go have a good time." Steve closed the door and headed for his bed. "Ah, finally peace and quiet."
Mark strolled up Kalakaua Avenue and found himself marveling at all the changes. He entered the marketplace and immediately became engrossed in all the wonderful displays. He spotted a book on Hawaiian cuisine and went to pick it up when someone bumped him from behind causing the book to fall on the ground.
"Excuse me sir," the young man said when he bumped into Mark. "Let me get that
for you …Dr. Sloan? Is that you?"
"Riley… Riley Matthews? How are you, it's been a long time." Mark extended his hand and Riley hesitantly reached for it.
"I'm fine thanks. This is the last place I expected to see you. Are you retired here or are you on vacation?"
"I'm on vacation," replied Mark. "What are you doing in Hawaii?"
"I moved here a few years ago. I work at a local clinic and I also work part-time for the cruise line. I fill in for their doctor when he's ill. Are you going island hopping or just staying here on Oahu?"
"We're taking a cruise. Steve, Amanda and another doctor, Jesse Travis are also here."
At the sound of Steve's name a dark cloud passed over Riley's face. He remembered with anger that day five years ago when his life tumbled out of control. It was all Steve Sloan's fault and he was going to pay. He had looked up to Mark, tried to be the kind of doctor Mark would have wanted on his staff. One mistake, that's all it took and now he was destined to pay for it the rest of his life.
"Uh, what did you say?" Riley quickly regained his composure, not wanting Dr. Sloan to see the anger he still kept bottled up inside.
"I said Steve, Amanda, and Jesse also made the trip. We're taking a seven- day island cruise this Friday. Steve was injured a few weeks ago and he needed to get away for some R and R."
"How was he injured?" asked Riley, suddenly very interested in what Mark Sloan had to say.
"He was kidnapped in a case of mistaken identity. Steve received a nasty blow to the head and has been suffering from severe headaches ever since. Thankfully, the headaches have eased some. I increased his medication and now he's doing much better."
"What medication are you giving him?"
"Good choice. I've prescribed it many times with successful results. I'm glad for you Dr. Sloan, I always looked up to you, but you know Steve is not one of my favorite people."
"Riley, I know you think it was Steve's fault that you lost your position at Community General, but it isn't so. You were caught buying drugs. Steve had no choice but to report the arrest to me. I would have found out about it anyway. The board ruled to terminate your contract. I'm glad you were able to turn your life around but it just wasn't in the cards for you to be a part of the Community General staff. You can't possibly blame Steve for your poor judgement."
"Dr. Sloan, I apologize for upsetting you. You're right and I have taken measures to change my life. Look, it was nice running into you, please say hello to Amanda for me. Oh, and enjoy your cruise." Riley shook Mark's hand and walked away. " We had no choice in terminating your contract," he mimicked. "I'm glad you were able to turn your life around, you can't possibly blame Steve for your poor judgement. Don't you worry Dr. Sloan," Riley murmured to himself, "I'll make sure you and your son experience a cruise you'll never forget. Hmm… I haven't seen my friend Doc Woods in a few weeks. I think he's due for a permanent vacation," and on that note Riley Matthews blended into the crowd.
Mark shook his head sadly as he watched Riley walk away. He hasn't changed, Mark thought to himself. "I feel sorry for anyone that crosses his path."
Steve awoke from his nap feeling better than he had in days. "Hmm…" he said out loud. "There must be something to this vacation thing." He stepped out onto his balcony and took in the sights of Waikiki Beach. He noticed Amanda and CJ building a sandcastle and laughed when he spotted Jesse wiping out on his surfboard. Feeling refreshed and eager to see the sights, Steve grabbed his room key and headed for the elevator. He rode down to the lobby in silence and made his way to the hotel entrance. Steve spotted his dad walking up the path and waved to him to get his attention.
"Hi Dad" said Steve, as he met Mark halfway. "How was your walk?"
"A lot has changed in twenty-five years since I was last here with your mother."
"What did you buy?" asked Steve when he noticed a package in Mark's hand.
"A book on Hawaiian cuisine. I can't wait to try some of these recipes."
"Oh joy, I can't wait" was Steve's answer.
Mark ignored his son's sarcastic remark. He knew anything cooked in grease and topped with ketchup was more to Steve's liking.
"You're looking better than you did a few hours ago. How do you feel?"
"I feel rested, headache has really eased up. In fact, I'm starving! What do you say to spaghetti? I spotted an Italian restaurant down the block over there."
"That's fine with me son, but don't you think we should ask Jesse and Amanda if they want to join us? It's still a little early for dinner though."
"I'm going to take a walk, why don't you find Amanda and Jesse and tell them to meet us in an hour or so."
"See you in about an hour" said Mark, as he watched Steve walk off toward the bustling street.
Mark, Jesse, Amanda and CJ stepped out of the elevator and noticed Steve talking with the hotel security guard. CJ spotted him and went bouncing into his extended arms.
"Hey, big guy, are you as hungry as I am?" asked Steve, as he picked up CJ and waited for the rest of the crew to reach them.
"I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait to eat, I'm starving."
"Tell us something we don't already know" laughed Jesse as they made their way out the lobby doors.
"Very funny. Oh, and how were all those wipeouts?" asked Steve, "Is a Waikiki wipeout any different from a Malibu wipeout? I noticed you spent more time in the water than on your board?"
"Come on you guys" interrupted Amanda. "We can listen to you two squabble at home. Let's get some dinner."
"Steve noticed an Italian restaurant across the street. Is that okay with everyone?" asked Mark as they made their way out of the hotel.
"It's fine with me" said Amanda as she took CJ from Steve's arms.
"Yeah, me too" added Jesse.
"You are not going to believe whom I ran into at the Marketplace," said Mark as they entered the restaurant and a hostess led them to their table.
"Anybody I know?" asked Jesse. "Not Jack Stewart?"
"No Jesse, it wasn't Jack Stewart and no, you hadn't arrived at Community General yet so you've never met him. Steve, think back five years ago. You were on loan to the Narcotics Division. A resident from Community General was observed buying a controlled substance. You arrested him, but his father had the charges reduced if he went into rehab."
"I remember, the guy's name was Matthews, I think"
"Riley Matthews to be exact" said Mark. "I ran into him at the Marketplace."
"What's he doing here?" asked Amanda after everyone placed his or her order and she handed her son a breadstick.
"He lives here. He's working at a nearby clinic and part-time for the cruise line."
"His father probably got him the job. What did he say when he saw you, Dad?" asked Steve as he buttered a roll.
"He was actually quite cordial, although I could tell he was still very bitter. He tried to hide it, but when I mentioned your name, you could see the anger still in his eyes."
"He was stupid" Steve interrupted his father. "He should have known better than to try and buy drugs."
"Well, he still blames you for bringing his arrest to my attention."
"Dad, you would have found out about it sooner or later. It just happened sooner. His father didn't waste any time pulling strings though."
"Who is his father? Is he that powerful?" asked Jesse.
"Oh yeah!" said Steve. "Justin Matthews of Matthews, Thompson, and Craig. They are a high priced law firm in Beverly Hills. As soon as he found out his son was arrested, Matthews called in some favors and got the charges reduced on the condition Riley check himself into rehab."
I guess he moved here after he got his act together."
"Whatever Dad, all I know is, he's bad news. Forget him, I can't wait to sink my teeth into the lasagna, how about you guys?"
"I'm ready," said Jesse. "Hey Steve! I hear you can eat all day long on a cruise. Sounds like your kind of entertainment."
"If I were you Mr. Seasick, I would eat my fill before we get on the ship. You know how you get around boats. Hope you packed enough Dramamine?"
"I'm not going to spend my seven days sick as a dog. I'm sure the ship's doctor has a ready supply of Dramamine if I need it. He'll be my first stop once we board the ship.
So what are we going to do tomorrow? We still have one more day before our ship sets sail?"
"Oh I don't know, Jess," said Mark. "We can either split up and do our own thing or take the car Steve rented and see the sights."
"Let's do both" suggested Amanda. "We'll do our own thing until early afternoon, then we can get together, drive around the island, see a few sights, take in a show, you know, tourist stuff."
Sounds like a plan they all agreed.
Sunday morning found the group busily getting their luggage together for their trip to the cruise ship. Steve walked out of his hotel room and bumped into Amanda who was trying to juggle her luggage, CJ, and her room key.
"Here let me get that for you before you drop everything. Geez Amanda, we're only going to be gone seven days. What did you do? Pack your entire wardrobe?"
"Steve, I packed for two or did that fact allude you. I had to pack all of CJ's favorite books, toys, and teddy. I'm just thankful we're past the diaper bag stage. Take these two for me. Did Mark and Jesse already go down?"
"Uh-huh, CJ, big guy, are you ready to go?"
"Uncle Steve, we go on big, big boat."
"We sure are, come on you can push the elevator button," said Steve as he lifted CJ to reach the panel of buttons.
"Steve, you seem different today, more your old self. Your headaches are just about gone aren't they?" said Amanda as they reached the lobby and headed for Mark and Jesse.
"I'm feeling a lot better. For the next seven days all I'm going to do is park myself on a lounge chair near the pool and take in the scenery."
Amanda laughed as they reached Mark and Jesse. "Everyone present and accounted for sir. Are we ready to go?"
"I turned in our valet ticket," said Mark. "Our car should be here in a minute."
"Here it is, Dad. Come on you guys, let's get this car loaded, we have an hour before the ship sails."
Steve dropped everyone off at the Embarkation Center and went to find a parking space for the rental. He reached the group just in time to hear Jesse exclaim "What am I supposed to do now? I came all the way from LA. My friends have their cabins. We booked them all at the same time."
"I'm sorry sir, let me talk to my supervisor. I'll see what I can do?' said the young woman as she picked up her phone and waited for an answer.
Jesse turned to Mark, "What am I going to do Mark?"
"What's the problem here, Jess?" asked Steve as he tried to decipher Jesse's foul mood.
"They lost Jesse's reservation. He doesn't have a cabin for the cruise," said Mark.
"They what? This could only happen to you, Jesse. So what are we going to do about it?"
"I don't know," said Jesse. She's checking with her supervisor now. Figures, just my luck."
"Don't worry Jess. We'll think of something," said Amanda. "We are not leaving without you. I've got it. Share a cabin with Steve. They're bound to give you a price break especially after the foul up."
Jesse glanced quickly at Steve to see what his reaction would be to Amanda's suggestion.
"Steve, I swear I won't be any trouble. I promise, you won't even know I'm there. I'll be invisible. What do you say?"
"Let's wait and see, Jesse. They have to have something available. They always have a cabin available for a traveling VIP or someone they want to impress. It'll work out."
"Excuse me Dr. Travis, I'm afraid there is nothing available. If by chance someone cancels we will certainly accommodate your reservation."
"How can something like this happen? Look at my receipt, it says Paid in Full."
"I understand Doctor, evidently the FAX transmission omitted your reservation. Your name is not in our reservation system. I will certainly issue a credit to your charge card."
"I don't want a credit, I want to go on a cruise with my friends."
Steve interrupted Jesse "Excuse me Miss, Is it possible for Dr. Travis to share my cabin?"
"Let me check your cabin status Mr. Sloan." While the travel agent entered information into her computer terminal, Jesse turned to Steve gratefully.
"Thanks Steve, I really mean it."
"Dr. Travis, I can see no reason why we can't alter Mr. Sloan's reservation. We will certainly make an adjustment to both your accounts for your inconvenience. There is a slight problem however."
"Now what?" said Jesse in an exasperated voice.
"There is only one bed in Mr. Sloan's cabin. You see, it does not have two bunk beds. Mr. Sloan did not request that in his reservation."
"Excuse me, please." A well- dressed young woman in her early thirties approached the check-in counter. "Perhaps I can be of assistance."
"Ms. Maguire, nice to see you again."
"I couldn't help but overhear the Doctor's dilemma. Did the home office reserve my usual cabin?"
"Why yes they did, Ms. Maguire."
"Why don't you put Mr. Sloan and Dr. Travis in my cabin and I will take theirs. It's a simple solution. I won't mind a smaller cabin for this trip."
"You would do that for us?" Jesse asked in amazement. "You don't even know us."
"Let me introduce myself. I'm Connie Maguire. I'm a clothing buyer for a department store chain back east. My company keeps a cabin on reserve for me and it's your good fortune that I decided to come this week rather than next. I had a change in plans."
Jesse reached out to shake Connie's hand. "I don't know how to thank you! You saved my vacation."
Eyeing both Jesse and Steve, she smiled and replied, "You can buy me a drink later on tonight."
"That we can do!" Jesse said as he stared at the beautiful young woman. He snapped out of it when he felt a jab in his ribs by Amanda. "Ow! What did you do that for?" Jesse complained as he rubbed his sore ribs.
"You're staring." Amanda turned her attention to Connie; "You have to excuse the good Doctor here. He doesn't get out too often."
"Excuse me please," interrupted the agent. "Here are your boarding passes. Again, please accept the cruise line's apologies for the misunderstanding."
"All's well that ends well" said Mark, as they made their way up the gangway.
Connie shook hands with everyone then made her way to the stairway leading to her cabin.
"Well" said Mark, pointing to the stairway that Connie took. "It looks like our cabins are down that way."
Steve looked at his key number and remarked, "We're over this way, Jesse. We'll see you guys at the safety drill."
Jesse unlocked the door to their cabin and whistled when he took in the plush surroundings. "Steve, check this out, we even have our own balcony."
"That's nice, Jesse" said Steve as he plopped on the bed. "You can have the bed by the balcony."
Steve was interrupted by a knock at the door. Jesse opened the door and was surprised to see a steward standing there with a fruit basket.
"Can we help you?" asked Jesse.
"Yes, that's me," said Steve as he got up from the bed and walked over to the door. "What can I do for you?"
"Please accept this basket with our compliments."
"Thanks, thank you very much," and with that Steve took the basket and closed the cabin door.
"How do you rate a gift basket?" asked Jesse. "I'm the one whose reservation was lost."
"I'm the one who let you share my cabin," said Steve as he bit into a juicy slice of pineapple. "Hmm… not bad, a little bitter though, not as sweet as I thought it would be." "There's enough fruit and cheese here to last the entire cruise," said Jesse as he reached for a slice of pineapple. "This is pretty good."
"Come on Jess, we need to meet Dad and Amanda up on deck for our safety drill. Grab your lifejacket."
"I'm right behind you."
Meanwhile, the steward walked down the corridor, stopped in front of the sick bay door and knocked until the door was opened.
"I delivered the basket just like you wanted me too, Dr. Matthews."
"Thanks Kimo, here you go," smiled the doctor as he handed him a wad of bills.
"Anytime Doc, anytime."
Riley watched as Kimo strolled out of sight. "Well, Lt. Sloan, let's see how that head of yours feels after munching on some cheese and pineapple for a few days." Riley grabbed his lifejacket and headed for his meeting of ship's officers.
"Revenge is sweet."
Steve and Jesse met up with Mark, Amanda and CJ at their lifeboat station. All were paying close attention to the announcements being broadcast throughout the ship and all marveled at the crew's efficiency. As the ship's officers made their inspection of each lifeboat station, Mark nudged Steve when he spotted a familiar face approaching them.
"Steve, there he is."
"Riley, Riley Matthews. He said he worked for a cruise line but I didn't think he meant this one."
"Just ignore him Dad. Don't let him get to you. He's not going to ruin our vacation. I won't let him."
As the captain's inspection team walked passed their station, Riley, totally ignoring Steve, nodded to Mark and smiled at Amanda. The all-clear horn sounded a few moments later and everyone removed their life vests and began returning to their cabins. Riley watched as the Sloan party made its way through the main lobby toward the stairwell. He spoke briefly to the captain and motioned for Mark to stop.
"Dr. Sloan, I'd like to introduce you to Captain Rhodos."
"Doctor Sloan, it is very good to meet you."
"Likewise, Captain. Let me introduce you to my son Steve, and our friends, Amanda Bentley, Jesse Travis, and this little guy is Amanda's son CJ."
"Doctor, I would be honored to have you and your friends as my guests for dinner this evening. My aide will contact you with the time. Please excuse me, I must file my report. Until this evening, then?"
As the captain walked away, Mark turned to Riley. "Riley, I didn't realize you worked for this cruise line?"
"There are only two ships that cruise the islands and they both belong to the same company. They run on different days." Riley directed his attention to Steve who was silently watching Riley.
"Mark said you were injured a few weeks ago."
"I'll live," was Steve's curt response.
"Dad, I'll catch up with you later. I'm going back to the cabin, my head is killing me."
Mark gave Jesse a concerned look, "Don't worry Mark, I'll keep an eye on Steve."
"Mark," Amanda began, "why don't you come with me while I sign CJ up for the kid's cruise club. Riley, we'll see you later."
Riley laughed to himself as he watched them head for the elevator. "Poor Steve has a headache. Just wait Mark, Steve should be feeling much better tomorrow after he eats more fruit."
Steve returned to his cabin and immediately reached for his headache pills. Jesse walked in a few minutes later and found his friend sitting out on their balcony.
"There you are, why don't you come up to the Sunrise Terrace with me? We might run into Connie. "
"Maybe later, Jesse. I just wanted to get away from the noise. I have the best of both worlds here, a beautiful view and peace and quiet."
"I can take a hint," replied Jesse, as he reached for a piece of fruit and headed out the door. "See you later."
Jesse munched on the fruit as he headed up to the Sunrise Terrace. He secured a table that offered a panoramic view of the ocean and looked around for a familiar face. He spotted Connie and smiled when she waved to him and approached his table.
"Hi, is this seat taken?"
"Now it is, can I get you something to drink?" asked Jesse.
"Thanks, I'd love a glass of iced tea. Where are your friends?"
"Amanda and Mark are signing Amanda's son up for the kid's cruise program and Steve is taking it easy in our cabin."
"He's inside on a beautiful day like today? Is he sick or something?"
"Sort of. Steve's a police detective. A few weeks ago he received a pretty good whack on the head and he's still feeling the effects of it."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Well, a cruise will definitely help him feel better. I always feel so much more relaxed after a few days on the ship."
As Connie sipped her tea, she noticed Jesse looking a little ashen.
"Jesse, are you alright?"
"I'm fine," he said after a moment. "Just a little queasy. I think I'd better go by sickbay later and pick up some motion sickness pills."
"That's a good idea. Jesse, there's Dr. Sloan and Amanda."
"Mark, Amanda, over here." Jesse borrowed two chairs from the nearby table and made room for Amanda and Mark.
"As soon as he saw the playroom, he lost all interest in dear old Mom. He already made a friend." Amanda turned her attention to Connie. "It's nice to see you again."
"Thank you. I'm usually pretty busy meeting with reps, but I don't have a meeting scheduled until tomorrow. In fact, Jesse, I need to introduce you to my friend Samantha Martin. She's a rep for the modeling agency my company works with. I haven't run into her yet, but I'll bring her by later on. I think you'll like her."
"Uh, Jesse," interrupted Mark when he saw the expression on his face. "You didn't go by sickbay yet did you?"
"Gee Mark, what gave it away?" he replied. "I think I'm going to excuse myself and take a little walk down to the sickbay. Then I'll go back to the cabin. I think Steve could use some company."
"Just don't forget our dinner plans tonight" Amanda reminded him.
"Dinner is the furthest thing on my mind. Don't worry, I won't forget. See you later Connie."
"Take care of yourself, Jesse. I should be going too. Doctor Sloan, Amanda, I hope to see you this evening?"
"Yes, absolutely, we'll see you tonight" replied Mark as Connie rose from her chair and headed out of the Sunrise Terrace.
"Well young lady, it seems as though it's just the two of us. What plans do you have?"
"Mark, I'm going to head down to my cabin, change into something very comfortable and head for the nearest lounge chair. I have a paperback that is just beckoning me to read it. CJ is having dinner with his new pals, so I'm going to kick back and relax until dinner. What are your plans?"
"Believe it or not, a Bingo game is starting in the Saturn Lounge. I'm going to take a stroll over there and check it out."
"Mark Sloan, you're going to play Bingo? I'll have to see it to believe it." Amanda reached across the table and planted a kiss on Mark's cheek. "Have a good time, see you later."
Mark watched as Amanda walked away, then sat for a few minutes before he headed for the exit. He followed the signs to the Saturn Lounge, purchased a card and found a seat just as the Cruise Director announced the beginning of the first game. Mark turned to the couple seated next to him and introduced himself. He was having such a good time that it surprised him when they announced the final coverall game. It surprised him even more when his final two numbers were called and he shouted "BINGO". Mark walked his card over to the director and laughed when she handed him seven crisp hundred-dollar bills.
"My son is never going to believe this!" he said as he placed the bills in his wallet.
"Oh my, look at the time." Mark turned to his new friends, bid them farewell and headed back to his cabin to get ready for the Captain's dinner.
Steve tried to ignore his headache as he dressed for the Captain's dinner.
"Come on Jesse, aren't you finished in there yet?"
"Give me a minute, will ya. I'm almost done," Jesse answered as he walked out of the bathroom toweling his hair dry.
"What are you so grouchy about? We have a half hour before we have to be downstairs."
"Forget it, I just want to finish getting dressed so I can get out of this cabin. I'm starving, I haven't eaten all day."
"So grab a fruit while you're waiting. No reason to let them go to waste."
Steve gave Jesse a glance; "Let them go to waste? The way you've been eating them we're going to finish the basket before tomorrow."
"I can't help it. This pineapple is so sweet and juicy. I can't get enough of it."
"I thought you were feeling nauseous? How can you stand to eat all that fruit?"
"I don't know, I guess my stomach can handle it. Go ahead I'm done in there."
Steve headed for the bathroom when there was a knock at the door.
"Hi Jesse, are you boys ready to head for dinner?"
"It'll be a few more minutes. Steve isn't ready yet."
"How's he feeling?"
"His headache is back worse than ever. He's irritable and not very pleasant to be around."
"Jesse, I'm starting to get really worried. I can't increase his medication anymore than I have already."
"He'll be all right, Mark. I'll keep an eye on him."
"What are you two conspiring about this time?" Asked Steve as he noticed his father and friend huddled in deep discussion. "I'm really getting tired of being the topic of conversation."
"Steve, I was just telling Jesse about the Bingo game I won this afternoon."
"You played Bingo? Now I've heard everything. Dr. Mark Sloan playing Bingo. Well, did you win anything?"
Mark took out his billfold and smiled as he peeled out seven one hundred-dollar bills. "Whoa, Mark! You won seven hundred dollars? When's the next game?"
"Good going Dad, sorry I snapped at you."
"Forget it Son, I know how I get when I have a headache. By the way, I stopped by Amanda's cabin. She's going to meet us at the Captain's table. She wanted to check on CJ. Shall we go?"
Mark, Jesse and Steve headed toward the dining room when they met Amanda in the corridor.
Turning to his father and Jesse, Steve whistled his approval of Amanda's outfit.
"Uh guys, is this the same Amanda we know and love? All right, whoever you are where did you stash our friend?"
"Ditto for me" added Jesse.
"Don't leave me out," said Mark "Honey, you look absolutely beautiful."
"Thank you boys, keep the compliments coming," said Amanda as she gave each one of them a kiss on the cheek.
"Shall we go in?" asked Amanda as she took Mark's arm and they entered the dining room. The Maitre D welcomed them and escorted them to the Captain's table.
They were pleasantly surprised to see Connie and her friend Samantha already seated and chatting with the Captain.
"Good evening, Captain, ladies," said Mark, as he, Steve, and Jesse shook hands with the Captain.
"Welcome, please sit down," replied the Captain as he signaled the wine steward to approach the table.
Drink orders were given and soon everyone was engaged in a lively discussion.
"Dr. Sloan, I understand that you are a physician in California?"
"Yes, I'm the head of Internal Medicine at Community General Hospital. Dr. Travis heads our Emergency Room staff, and Dr. Bentley is our hospital pathologist. She also works for the Coroner's Office."
"That is very interesting, Dr. Bentley. You all must find your work very rewarding. Mr. Sloan, may I be so bold as to ask what your profession is?"
"Not at all, Captain. I 'm a Lieutenant for the Los Angeles Police Department. I'm a detective in the robbery homicide division."
"Lt. Sloan, it is most unfortunate that you will not have the opportunity to meet our ship's doctor. Jonathan Woods considers himself to be an amateur sleuth. He and I have spent many a cruise debating our favorite pastime, mystery novels. I must say however that he is the better sleuth."
"Then it seems you have a lot in common with my father, Captain Rhodos. He is a medical consultant to the police department."
Mark turned to the ladies. "Please forgive us, here we are in the company of the three prettiest women on the ship and we are talking about mystery novels and work."
"Not to worry, Dr. Sloan, but I would like to introduce everyone to my friend and colleague, Samantha Martin. Samantha is a representative for the agency that provides models for our department stores"
"Please, call me Sam. It's a pleasure to make everyone's acquaintance."
"No, it's definitely our pleasure," remarked Jesse as he took a sip of his wine.
"Captain Rhodos," Mark continued, "I couldn't help but notice that your name is the same as the Greek Island."
"You are very observant, Dr. Sloan. Rhodos is one of twelve Dodecanese Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea. The majority of my crew is also Greek. Antonios Petropoulos is the ship's master chef. He prepares island cuisine for the crew daily. It is only on special occasions, such as this evening for example, that we will eat the same fare as our guests. It is very difficult to watch your cholesterol while surrounded by such delicious entrees."
Mark nodded his head in agreement as the first course was served. He noticed that Jesse picked at his food and Steve just shuffled it from one side of his dish to the other. Captain Rhodos also took notice.
"Dr. Travis, Lt. Sloan, please if there is anything that is not to your liking, I will have the Maitre D bring you something different."
"Oh no, Captain," said Jesse. "You see I'm having a little problem finding my sea legs. My motion sickness pill doesn't seem to be working. Everything looks delicious."
"Lieutenant, can we order something different for you?"
"I'm fine, Captain, I do have a bit of a headache, but I'm also not much of a salad eater. I'll just wait for the main course."
"Captain, you mentioned that Dr. Woods is the ship's doctor. I noticed Dr. Riley on board. Is your doctor ill?"
"Dr. Sloan, it is a mystery. I spoke with Jonathan yesterday. He seemed fine, jovial in fact. He did not arrive on the ship this morning and did not return his page. The cruise line sent Dr. Matthews in his place. I am concerned, it is not like Jonathan to not notify us if he is not going to make the sailing."
"Captain, I'm sure there is a logical explanation for his absence. Perhaps he was called away on a family emergency and was not able to contact you."
"Yes, that is probably the reason. Everyone please eat, enjoy your dinner."
The rest of the dinner past without incident. As coffee and dessert were being served, the Captain invited everyone to be his guests for the evening's festivities in the Club Universe.
Mark escorted Amanda, Steve offered his arm to Connie, and Jesse his to Sam. They made their way into the capacity filled room, the only seats available, reserved for the Captain's party.
"Steve," said Jesse, as they made their way to the front of the room. "I guess what they say is true. It pays to have friends in high places." Everyone took their seats and enjoyed an evening of singing, laughing and dancing. Steve escorted Connie to the dance floor, but cringed as his head throbbed with every beat of the music. When the band stopped for a brief intermission, Steve turned to Connie, "Do you mind if we pass on the next set? My head is throbbing and I'd like to turn in."
"Steve, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking. Jesse mentioned that you had been injured during an investigation and that you hadn't fully recovered. Come to think of it, you don't look too hot. Why don't we meet by the pool tomorrow morning after my meeting, We'll have an entire day at sea to just relax, take in the sun, and get to know each other."
"I'd love it, thanks." Steve turned to the rest of his party and bid everyone a goodnight.
"Steve," asked Mark. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine Dad. Goodnight all."
"Steve, wait, I'll walk with you. I need to pick CJ up from the playroom anyway," said Amanda, as she rose from her seat. "Goodnight all."
"I didn't realize how late it was," added Mark. "I think I'm going to turn in also. Ladies, can we escort you to your cabins?"
"Thank you Dr. Sloan, but Connie and I need to go over a few details before our meeting in the morning." Sam turned to Jesse and continued, "Jesse, I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Absolutely, I'll be around."
Steve rubbed his temples as they waited for the elevator to take them up to their deck. They didn't notice the young man standing behind the purser's counter eyeing their every move. As they stepped into the elevator Riley emerged from his hiding place and headed for the galley.
"Time to visit Kimo and give him directions for the next step in my plan. Seven days is not long enough to implement my plan. Looks like I'll have to increase the dosage to make my plan work faster. Oh well, that's life, I mean death."
Cruise Day 2
Mark woke up early and was finishing his second lap around the deck when he bumped into Amanda and CJ.
"Good morning, Amanda, you're up early. Hi CJ."
"Mark, you know how it is when you're used to getting up a certain time every day. My built in alarm clock said it was time to get up. This little guy has been up for an hour. We're going to get some breakfast before I drop CJ off in the playroom. Do you want to join us?"
"I'm going to pop in on the boys. See if they're up yet. I'll catch up with you in a little while. Have a good time today, CJ." With that, Mark headed for the corridor leading to Steve and Jesse's cabin. He knocked on the door several times before he heard someone stirring within.
"Steve, someone's at the door."
"Hmm?" answered Steve as he buried his head deeper into his pillow.
"The door, someone's knocking on the door."
"Steve, Jesse, are you awake?"
"Steve, it's your dad."
With his eyes barely open, Jesse crawled out of bed and made his way to the cabin door. "Morning Mark, what are you doing up so early? You're on vacation."
"I came to see if you boys wanted to take a power walk around the deck with me. I've already done two laps. Three more to go. Amanda is already up on deck with CJ. They're having breakfast."
"Good for them, I'm sleeping in," said Jesse as he crawled back into bed.
"Steve? Do you feel up to a walk around the ship?"
"Hmm?" uttered Steve as he tried to block the sun from shining on his face.
"I guess I'm walking on my own this morning. I'll be on deck when you two decide to get up."
"Dad, do us a favor. If you see our steward outside, tell him to bring us a pot of coffee. We'll see you for a late breakfast."
"You know where to find me."
A half an hour later, there was another knock on the door.
"Steve, someone's at the door."
"I got up before, it's you're turn. It's probably room service with our coffee. Come on, get up!"
Steve reluctantly got up and headed for the door. He opened it and recognized the steward as the same one who delivered the cheese and fruit basket from yesterday.
"You delivered the fruit basket yesterday, didn't you?"
"Yes sir, was everything to your liking?"
"Yeah, it was delicious. We're almost finished with it. You can put the coffee down over here," said Steve as he made room on the coffee table.
"Have a good day, sir." Kimo closed the door and headed for sick bay once more.
"Come on Jesse, get up!" said Steve as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
"I'll get up in a minute, I feel like I've been run over by a truck, I could sleep for a week."
"I don't think Sam will be happy if you decided to sleep for a week," teased Steve as he downed his first cup of coffee and poured himself another.
"I see your sense of humor has returned. Feeling better?" asked Jesse as he finally forced himself to get up.
"You know, I don't know what's worse, to have a father for a doctor, or a friend for a doctor. No, I know what's worse, to have both a father and a friend for doctors. Just once I want a conversation to not begin with, How's your headache."
"You're getting testy again," Jesse interrupted.
Jesse, I know you and Dad mean well, but give me a break. If I need a doctor, I know where to find one."
"No offense, Steve, but you don't know when you need a doctor. For example, you're irritable, you're having severe headaches, and since when does Steve Sloan opt to take an elevator when he would rather jog up two flights of stairs. You're having a hard time catching your breath. As your friend and doctor, I'm going to recommend to Mark that when we get to Kauai tomorrow we take you in for a check up."
"Is the lecture over? If it is, I'm ready for breakfast. Oh, and by the way, if anyone doesn't know when he or she needs a doctor, it's you. You know you're seasick, but have you gone by sickbay to get pills?"
"For your information I've been taking them since yesterday."
"Well, I have news for you, they're not working. Now, are you coming to breakfast or not?" Steve finished his tirade and headed for the door.
"Tell Mark I'll be there in a few minutes."
Jesse watched Steve bolt out the door and shook his head with concern as he continued dressing. "Something's wrong, very wrong."
Mark waved to Steve and motioned him to sit. He noticed the scowl on his son's face and was about to ask him if he felt all right when Steve said, "If you're going to ask me how I feel, don't. I have a splitting headache, it's not getting any better and I'm sick and tired of everyone asking me how I feel."
"I'm sorry son, but you're not progressing as well as I had hoped. Perhaps this cruise wasn't such a good idea. I'm going to ask to ask the captain if I can use the sickbay facilities to give you a checkup after breakfast."
"Ask away, whatever the answer I won't be there. I plan on sitting by the pool all day. I'm on vacation remember?"
Mark shook his head as he watched his son walked over to the breakfast buffet and return with just a bagel.
"Is that all you're going to eat? Would you like me to get you a cup of coffee?" Mark asked his son.
"This is fine for now, besides Kimo brought a pot of coffee to the cabin so I'll pass."
Steve was spreading cream cheese on his bagel when he noticed Jesse walking over to the table and remarked, "Just great, now I'm going to hear it all over again!"
"Hear what again?" asked Mark, concerned over Steve's growing irritability.
"He doesn't want to hear how concerned we are. I told him we should check him out when we get to Kauai tomorrow."
"Jesse's right Steve, and no matter how much you want to deny it, you need a checkup. Your headaches haven't gotten any better, in fact they've gotten worse since we came on the ship and you're irritable."
"You forgot his shortness of breath," added Jesse.
"I tell you what," said Steve as he got up from his chair. "The two of you have your patient consult, I'm going to find me a lounge chair and take in the scenery."
Jesse and Mark watched as Steve left the buffet area.
"Jesse, I don't know what's gotten into him. I am so worried. I'm going to find Captain Rhodos and ask him if we can use the sickbay. Hopefully Steve will come to his senses and let us check him out."
"Mark, he might listen to Amanda."
"Did I hear someone mention my name?" asked Amanda as she grabbed a muffin from the buffet table.
"We're talking about Steve and how you might be the one to get through to him," said Jesse as he brought her up to speed on the morning's events.
"Amanda, will you please talk to him? Try and make him realize how concerned we are."
"Of course I will, but you know you're not going to get Steve Sloan to do anything he doesn't want to do. I have to admit he is behaving way out of character. Mark, I thought the Midrin was helping?"
"That's what has me so baffled guys. When we left the hotel, he was feeling fine. Steve even remarked to me how he hadn't had a headache all day. Now we're on the ship two days and the headaches are back with a vengeance. Something is not right."
"Mark, I don't think the sickbay has the equipment we need to check Steve out" interrupted Jesse. "I think you should ask the captain where the nearest hospital is on Kauai. If Steve isn't better that's where he needs to be."
"Jesse," Amanda said when he finished talking. "What about you? Are you feeling all right"? Why haven't you taken your Dramamine?"
"I did take it," replied Jesse. "That's why I'm feeling so tired. I can't understand why I'm still queasy. It's never taken this long for me to get over my motion sickness. I'm usually feeling better after only one dose."
"Well, if you're not feeling any better by tomorrow, maybe we should check you out too."
"Whatever, right now let's focus on Steve and how we're going to get him to the hospital tomorrow if we need to."
"I'll go find him," said Amanda. "I'll try and get him to see to reason. Talk to you later."
"Thanks honey, I appreciate it."
"Mark," said Amanda as she reached over and gave him a hug, "Steve will be okay."
"I hope so, Amanda, I hope so."
Amanda found Steve sitting by the pool drinking a cup of coffee. "Hi there, good looking."
"Hi yourself," muttered Steve. "If my father and Jesse sent you to talk some sense into me, you're wasting your time and mine."
"Steve, why are you being so stubborn?"
"Amanda, I'm just tired. Tired of the headaches, tired of the constant barrage of questions, tired of the hovering, just plain tired. I just want everyone to leave me alone. Is that asking too much?"
"Steve, we've been through a lot, the four of us. We're a family and when a member of the family is hurting it's natural for everyone to run to their aid. Remember when Jesse was missing for a week? Who was the one who searched for him and wouldn't give up even though everyone said there were no leads? Jesse wants to help you the only way he knows how, through medicine. Something isn't right. You should be over your headaches and there's no reason for you to be so short of breath and so irritable. Something is brewing inside that body of yours, and your father and Jesse just want to get to the bottom of it. Will you let Jesse check you out later on in the sickbay?"
Steve let out a sigh and looked Amanda straight in the eye. "I know when I'm fighting a losing battle. Tell Dad and Jesse to do their thing, but I don't want Matthews anywhere near me. I don't trust the guy and I don't want him nosing into my business."
"If Riley Matthews asks why we need the sickbay, we'll just tell him it's a routine checkup from your injury."
"Fine, whatever Amanda." Steve turned to catch Kimo's eye and motioned for him to bring another cup of coffee.
"Steve, isn't that the steward for your cabin? What's he doing on the pool deck serving you coffee?"
"Amanda, I don't know why he's on the pool deck. I'm not his keeper. Thanks, Kimo. Keep the coffee coming. Amanda, do you want a cup?"
"No thanks," she replied as Kimo poured Steve another cup of coffee. As he reached over to pour the coffee, a jaggedly cut pill fell out of his pocket. Amanda reached down and picked it up. She called to him but he had already walked away. She thought to herself as she placed the pill in her pocket that she would have to have a talk with him about keeping his meds in a safety bottle. He should be thankful that she spotted the pill and not a child. It looked too much like a piece of candy to be carelessly kept in his pocket. Returning her attention to Steve, she said "I'm going to check on CJ, then I'm going to find your father and Jesse. You take it easy and I'll see you later."
Steve took another sip of coffee and nodded as Amanda walked away.
As soon as Amanda was out of sight, Steve raised his fingers to his forehead and massaged his temples as hard as he could. "When are these headaches going to stop?" he sighed. I can't take it anymore!"
Amanda spotted Jesse and Mark standing at that starboard rail and motioned to them with a thumbs up.
"You got him to agree? How did you do it?" asked Jesse with a surprised look on his face.
"Believe me Jesse, it wasn't easy." Amanda turned to Mark, "Steve said he knew when he was fighting a losing battle. The only thing is, he doesn't want Riley Matthews anywhere near him. He doesn't trust him and doesn't want him nosing around in his business."
Mark nodded his head; "I'll go by the bridge and see if the captain can spare me a few minutes. I'll explain the situation to him and perhaps he'll be able to distract Riley long enough for us to use the sickbay without him getting wind of it. There probably isn't much we can do on ship, but at least we'll have an idea what tests to order when we arrive in Kauai tomorrow."
"Mark, that sounds like a good plan," agreed Amanda. "I'm going to go and check on CJ then I'll meet you in Steve and Jesse's cabin."
"I'm going to take a walk around the ship," said Jesse rising from his chair. "Maybe I'll be able to shake this upset stomach. I'll meet you guys back at the cabin in a little while."
"Well, I'm off to the bridge. Let's hope the captain has a few minutes to spare. See you soon."
Mark ran into the Captain as he headed up to the Bridge. Captain Rhodos had a few minutes to spare and invited him back to his office where Mark apprised him of the situation.
"Dr. Sloan, I must agree with your son. I too have misgivings about Dr. Matthews. Although he has not given me cause to suspect him of wrong doing, I will do what I can to assist you. I think ten o'clock will be the perfect time to conduct my surprise safety inspection of the crew's quarters. I trust one hour is ample time to utilize the sickbay and to have everything back in its place?"
"One hour is more than enough time, Captain. Thank you so much." Mark shook the Captain's hand and headed back to Steve and Jesse's cabin.
Amanda and Jesse were already back at the cabin waiting for Steve when Mark returned.
"It's all set," Mark reported. "The captain is going to conduct a safety inspection at ten. He'll make sure Riley is otherwise occupied."
"Great, but now all we need to do is find Steve. I wonder where he is?" said Jesse.
"Don't worry," answered Steve as he wearily walked into the cabin. "You don't have far to search."
Mark raced over to his son and eased him onto the bed. "My God Steve, you're burning up! How long were you going to try and keep this from us?"
"Jesse, we're not moving him," said Mark. "It's almost ten o'clock. I want you to go down to the sickbay and bring what we need back here. Amanda, would you help me please?"
Jesse made it to the sickbay and back in record time. He took Steve's blood pressure while Amanda took his temperature and Mark checked his pulse.
"BP is high, 150/110," said Jesse.
"Temperature is 102," added Amanda.
"Pulse is rapid and irregular," said Mark.
"Severe headaches, shortness of breath, high fever, irritability, rapid and irregular pulse, Mark, these aren't symptoms of a concussion," concluded Amanda.
"I'm afraid you're right," agreed Mark as he gazed on his feverish son. "Something really has me puzzled though. Steve was feeling much better; his headaches were practically gone. I wouldn't have talked him into a vacation if he were exhibiting any of these symptoms. Whatever is going on, started here in Hawaii."
"Correction," said Jesse. "Whatever is going on started here on this cruise ship."
"A viral infection perhaps?" asked Mark. Jesse just shrugged his shoulders.
As Amanda reached in her pocket for a tissue, she felt the pill that she picked up earlier by the pool. Mark and Jesse looked at her as she stared at the pill.
"What's the matter Amanda?" asked Jesse. "You looked as though you've just seen a ghost?"
"Guys, I may be stretching things a bit, I mean really stretching things," she said as she fingered the pill, "and I can't say for sure without a blood test, but I think Steve may be having a drug counteraction."
"What? How did you come to that conclusion?" exclaimed Jesse.
"All he's taking is Midrin for his headaches," added Mark. "How can he be having a drug counteraction?"
"I told you I may be stretching things, but you didn't see how this guy was hovering over Steve. This fell out of his pocket when he went to pour him a cup of coffee."
"I still don't see how you finding that pill means that Steve is having a reaction to some drug,"
"Look, while you two are brainstorming," said Jesse, "I'm going to get these back to sickbay before Riley returns from the captain's inspection. Keep the thermometer, there were plenty, I don't think he'll miss it."
"Thanks Jesse," said Mark.
"Mark. It just struck me as strange that a cabin steward would be up by the pool."
"I suppose it is a little strange," conceded Mark, as he cooled Steve's forehead with the damp washcloth.
"Dad?" whispered Steve.
"Take it easy, son. You're going to be all right."
"What's wrong with me? I can't take this headache any longer."
"We won't know until we get you to a hospital in the morning, but it looks like you may have picked up a bug. Close your eyes and rest." Amanda and Mark walked out to the balcony and gazed at the mountains in the distance.
"Amanda, I'm worried about him. I feel so helpless stuck out here in the middle of nowhere. I can't do anything for him. What kind of a doctor am I when I can't even help my own son."
"Mark! Amanda!" shouted a breathless Jesse as he rushed into the cabin. "Look what I found on Matthews' desk." He placed a pill on the table that matched the one found by Amanda.
"What is it?" asked Steve as he tried to sit up.
"It's a pill, Steve. The same kind that Amanda found out by the pool this morning when she came looking for you," answered Mark.
"There's only one thing wrong with your theory Amanda," said Mark. "If Kimo did slip something in Steve's coffee, it still wouldn't have been enough time to create such a reaction in him. He would also have had to put it in his food. We all ate the same dinner last night. Kimo was no where near our table"
"Fruit basket…" uttered Steve.
"Fruit basket?" repeated Amanda. What about a fruit basket, Steve?"
"Yesterday… before safety drill… knock on door…Kimo brought me a fruit and cheese basket. Jesse and I have been snacking from it all day. It's over there."
"Do you think it's possible that he put something in the fruit and cheese?"
"Yeah, it's possible, but I'm not sick like Steve is."
"Think about it Jesse," said Mark. "You can't shake your motion sickness. Maybe your symptoms haven't been as serious as Steve's because you're not taking meds. We need to get blood work on both of you."
"If this guy Kimo is poisoning us, then why were the pills on Riley's desk?"
"Oh my God! Riley Matthews! He swore revenge on Steve for having him arrested," exclaimed Mark. "He knew what meds Steve was taking for his concussion."
"How did he find out?" asked Steve.
"Remember when I told you I had bumped into him in the International Marketplace? I mentioned you were on meds and he asked me what kind. He said he had prescribed them often to his patients. I thought he was just making conversation. He was fishing for information. This is all my fault. Steve I am so sorry."
"Dad, not… your…fault."
"Mark, Riley Matthews hasn't been near this room. We haven't had any contact with him." Said Jesse.
"He must be paying Kimo to slip the drugs into Steve's food."
"Kimo," said Steve as he tried to stand up. "He brought the coffee this morning and followed me to the pool deck. I'm gonna find him."
"You're not going anywhere," insisted Jesse as he laid Steve back down on the bed.
"Besides," added Amanda, "We can't prove anything until we take some blood samples tomorrow when we reach Kauai. We need to also run a test on the pineapple and the cheese that you guys have been eating."
"Steve," Mark said, "now that we have an idea what's going on, we can take measures to treat it. We can't let Kimo or Riley know we're on to them." Mark turned to Jesse; "I noticed computers in the recreation center yesterday. I want you to take this pill with you, go on line and see what drugs match its description and will counteract with Midrin. See if you can find anything that matches up with the symptoms that you and Steve are exhibiting."
"I'll go with Jesse," offered Amanda. "You stay with Steve."
"Thanks, Amanda," said Mark. "Tomorrow morning can't come soon enough."
"Amanda, Jesse, thanks. Hasn't turned into much of a vacation has it?"
"Hey, that's what friends are for," said Amanda. "Besides, if we're right, Riley Matthews will be behind bars in no time at all."
"We won't be long, come on Amanda."
As Jesse and Amanda left the cabin, Mark took Steve's temperature again.
"It's still 102 son. Steve," Mark apologized, "I can't give you anything for your headache, not even the Midrin until we know what else you've been taking. I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Dad. Just… want to… sleep."
"I'll be here when you wake up."
"I need to talk to the captain again. If Riley is responsible for everything that is happening, he needs to check on his friend Dr. Woods. The only way for Riley to be placed on the ship is for Woods to be ill. No one has heard from him for three days."
"Go find the captain Dad, I'll be all right."
"I'm not going anywhere until Amanda and Jesse get back. Besides, we need to act as though nothing is out of the ordinary. We can't tip Riley off. Don't you agree?" Mark waited for Steve to answer him, but he was already asleep.
A knock on the door brought Mark out of his deep thoughts. He opened it to find Connie standing there.
"Why hello, Dr. Sloan. I thought I might find Steve here, he looked a bit under the weather last night, so I decided to come by and check to see how he was feeling since he didn't meet me by the pool this morning."
"First of all, it's Mark. Please come in."
Connie entered the cabin and gasped when she spotted Steve's pale form stretched out on the bed.
"Mark, what's wrong? Jesse told me Steve was recuperating from a concussion. He looks feverish."
"That's what we thought too," said Mark as he dampened the washcloth again and reapplied it to Steve's forehead."
"Is there anything I can do? Would you like me to go by the doctor's office and bring him up?"
"No, Jesse and I have everything under control. You have to promise me that you won't mention Steve's condition to anyone."
"Of course I won't, but what difference does it make? He's not contagious is he?"
No, no, he's not contagious. Connie, It's imperative that I speak to Captain Rhodos as soon as possible, but I don't want to leave Steve alone."
"Not to worry, Dr. Sloan. My meetings are over for the day. I'll stay with him until you get back."
"Thank you. I really shouldn't be too long. I'll fill you in on Steve's condition when I get back. Jesse and Amanda should be returning shortly. They went to do research on the net for me. I'm going to hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the door so that you won't have any visitors. If Kimo or the doctor should happen to come by, don't let them see how ill Steve is."
"I'll take care of it. Go find the captain, Steve will be fine. I'll watch him closely."
Mark gave Connie a quick tap on the shoulder and left the room.
Connie pulled a chair up close to the bed and watched as Steve slept. She couldn't imagine what sort of adventure she was getting herself into. After all, what did a buyer for a department store chain know about police work; taking another glance toward Steve, she figured she was going to find out soon enough.
"Mark, we think we know what Steve's been taking!" exclaimed Amanda and Jesse as they burst into the cabin. "Connie, what are you doing here?"
"Mark went to see the captain. I offered to sit with Steve until he came back. Now can someone please tell me what's going on? Mark said he would fill me in when he got back."
Jesse glanced over at Amanda and shrugged his shoulders. 'I suppose it's okay since Mark left her with Steve."
Amanda nodded in agreement.
"Well," began Amanda, "we have to go back five years. Steve was pulling a special detail for the narcotic's division. They had a popular crack house under surveillance and Steve was part of the raid. What he didn't expect to find was one of his father's interns buying drugs. Riley Matthews was arrested, the hospital board fired him and now he blames Steve."
"If he was arrested for buying drugs," asked Connie, how is it possible that he is still practicing medicine?"
"As soon as he was arrested, his father, a high priced attorney in Beverly Hills, pulled strings and got the charges reduced then signed his son into a rehab center. Evidently, as soon as he got his act together he moved to Hawaii and has been working at a clinic and for the cruise line part time."
"When we arrived in Hawaii, Mark went for a stroll through the International Marketplace," continued Jesse. "He bumped into Riley and I guess that brought all his anger to the surface. The next thing we know, Riley is subbing for the doctor, and Steve's headaches are worse than ever combined with several other symptoms which made us believe that it wasn't his concussion."
"If all this is true, how did Steve ingest the drug? He ate at the Captain's table last night and we've all eaten from the buffet?"
"A fruit and cheese basket was delivered soon after we boarded the ship. We thought it was complimentary," explained Jesse. " We've been eating from it since yesterday. We've also had coffee delivered to the room. We think the drug was planted in the fruit and the coffee. That's why the reaction was so swift, the caffeine made it work faster."
"Jesse, it sounds plausible, but why haven't you been affected?" asked Connie.
"I was, you'll understand better when Mark returns. I'll go into the details when Mark gets back."
"Connie," asked Amanda, "has Steve been asleep all the time you've been here?"
"Yes, but he's been very restless. I was just about to freshen his washcloth."
Jesse picked up the thermometer and took Steve's temperature again.
"Jesse?" asked Amanda. "What it is?"
"It's down a half a degree."
"That's something anyway, I wish Mark would get back with some news. I wonder what's taking him so long?" said Jesse as he began to pace back and forth.
Connie stood by the open balcony door and allowed the breeze to blow through her hair. She turned when she heard Mark's voice as he entered the cabin.
"Good," announced Mark. "You're all here. Amanda, Jesse, were you able to find anything out?"
"We think so, the symptoms are exactly what Steve is experiencing and it could explain Jesse's seasickness," said Amanda.
"Jesse is experiencing the more common side effects of the drug," continued Amanda. "But with Steve taking medicine for his concussion the drugs are counter reacting. We'll know definitely tomorrow when we drop anchor in Kauai."
"What did the captain say when you informed him of what's going on?" asked Jesse?
"He's very concerned about his friend, Dr. Woods. While I was in his office he placed a ship to shore call to the HPD. They're going to send a patrol car over to the doctor's home to see if they can determine what happened to him. Meanwhile, we have to act as though everything is working according to his plan. Captain Rhodos said that we are going to drop anchor at four in the morning. The passengers won't be allowed to disembark until after nine, but he is going to have a company car waiting for us to take Steve to the hospital as soon as we dock. Also, his personal chef will be providing our meals. Ladies and gentlemen, for the next day or so, we will be dining on Greek cuisine."
"Mark," said Amanda, "Riley is going to know something is up if he doesn't see us around the ship."
"You're right, Amanda," said Mark with a frown on his face. "He knows Steve is taking the drug so he expects him to be feeling ill. We need to make him believe that it isn't working as fast as he thinks it is. I'll stay with Steve while you all participate in the various activities."
"Excuse me Dr. Sloan, I mean Mark. I'll stay with Steve. I have plenty of paperwork to do and Dr. Matthews doesn't know me. If you bump into him you could tell him Steve's with me and you won't be lying."
"Connie, I don't know…"
"It's a good idea Mark," said Amanda. "We won't be gone for long stretches at a time. Just long enough to be visible on deck."
"I guess you're all right. I just don't want to be responsible for anyone else getting hurt. Riley is dangerous. Once the captain receives word from the HPD we'll be able to take care of him once and for all."
"Jesse how are you feeling?" asked Mark.
Actually much better since I haven't eaten from that fruit basket today. Plus, I didn't have any of that coffee that was delivered this morning. I think the Dramamine may have helped mask some of the symptoms; that's why I didn't feel the whole effects of the drug. I'm just going to make sure I don't drink anything unless I pour it for myself."
"Dad?" said Steve weakly as he woke up and saw everyone in the room. "What's going on?"
"Steve, you're awake?" said Mark as he reached for his wrist and took his pulse.
"Hmm… your pulse is still a bit irregular, but not as rapid, thank goodness."
"Steve," said Amanda, "you had us worried there for awhile."
"So what's everybody doing here? Haven't you ever seen a person with a headache and fever before?"
"We're going to forgive your grouchiness because it's one of the symptoms of the drug you were poisoned with," said Jesse. "But after tomorrow, you better be back to your normal grouchy self."
"Steve," asked Amanda, "how do you feel?"
"My head feels like I've just sat next to the speakers at the loudest rock concert. Seriously, my headache has eased up a little. Just want to sleep."
"I hate not being able to give you anything for the pain son, but we can't take a chance on it."
"Don't worry about it Dad, I'm going to just sleep it…."
"He's out again, best thing under the circumstances" said Jesse.
"I'm going to go and spend some time with my son, whether he wants me to or not," remarked Amanda. "I'll be back in a little while."
I'm going to soak up some rays by the pool, maybe I'll run into Sam," said Jesse.
"If you see her," mentioned Connie, "tell her I'll get with her later on this evening to go over the particulars for the fashion show."
"And I'm going to see if the captain has heard anything from HPD. Connie, I won't be long. Thank you for staying with Steve."
While everyone went their own way, Connie alternated between her paperwork and checking Steve's temperature. "This has turned into a very interesting cruise. Very interesting indeed."
Later that evening, everyone met back in Steve's cabin. They were enjoying a dinner of keftedes and salad while Mark related the conversation he had with Captain Rhodos.
"Something has definitely happened to Dr. Woods. The police sent a squad car over to his home and found it in disarray. His car was found miles away in a very deserted part of Oahu. The police have search parties out looking for clues. Hopefully, we'll know something before we drop again in the morning."
"I kept an eye on Matthews today while I sat by the pool," added Jesse. "He came by and asked me where Steve was and I told him he was spending time with Connie. He asked me how he was feeling and I told him he was a little under the weather."
"What was his reaction when you told him that Steve wasn't feeling well?" asked Mark.
"He gave a little smirk, but I ignored it. You don't know how bad I wanted to punch him out," said Jesse.
"That, I would have liked to have seen," said Steve as he nibbled on a keftede. "These Greek hamburgers aren't bad. I wish I had more of an appetite."
"Steve, your color looks much better than it did earlier this afternoon," Amanda remarked.
"I still feel like garbage."
Not taking your meds and staying away from the caffeine has slowed down the effects of the drug," explained Mark.
"Where did Connie run off too?" asked Steve. "She wasn't here when I woke up."
"She's meeting with Sam. She said she'll stop by later." Mark turned to Jesse; "I want you to stay in my cabin tonight. I'll stay here with Steve."
"Dad, that isn't necessary. I'm feeling much better, I'll be fine."
"Yeah, Mark. I can keep an eye on Steve."
"Jesse, have you forgotten that you've been poisoned too? You need to take it easy also. Stay in my cabin tonight so you can get a good night's sleep. I'll send for you when we drop anchor and we're ready to head for the hospital."
"Can't win can I?"
"No you can't, especially since I feel responsible for this whole mess. When am I going to learn to mind my own business?"
"Dad!" "Mark!" Steve and Jesse spoke at once.
"Stop blaming yourself, Dad. Riley is responsible and when I get my strength back I'm going to make sure he pays."
"We'll worry about Riley when the time comes," said Mark as he and Amanda cleared away the dinner dishes.
"I'm going to take CJ to the magic show tonight. Why don't you come with us Mark? It'll take your mind off of things for a while."
"Dad, you know how you like to outwit the magician. I'll be fine. I'm going to sit out here on the balcony for a few minutes then I'm going to lie down. Please go, I feel bad enough as it is that our vacation has been ruined."
"Okay, you talked me into it. Come on Amanda, let's go get CJ."
"See you later boys, be good."
Mark and Amanda left, leaving Jesse and Steve to admire the crystal blue waters as the ship made its way toward Kauai.
Mark stood on the balcony and watched as the crew dropped anchor in Kauai. Finally, he thought to himself. Yesterday turned out to be one of the longest days of his life. He felt so helpless not being able to help his son that he paced the entire night. Steve would have been upset with him if he had known that he didn't get any sleep. He had to admire Steve for putting up a brave front, but he knew he was hurting. He walked back into the room and watched as he slept. Not a peaceful sleep, but a troubled sleep. He debated whether he should wake him up now, or wait until there came a knock on the door. The decision was made for him when five minutes later there was a knock on the door. He opened the door and recognized the officer as being George, the captain's personal assistant.
"Dr. Sloan, good morning. The Captain has asked me to inform you that we will be ready to take your party ashore in thirty minutes. I will return at that time to escort you to the company car that awaits us."
"Thank you George," said a relieved Mark. "We'll be ready. I'll call Dr. Travis so that he will also be ready. Tell the Captain many thanks. By the way, has he received word from Oahu?"
"Unfortunately, no. He is very worried about his friend. Doctor, I must be on my way. I will return in thirty minutes."
Mark walked over to Steve and gently shook his shoulder to wake him.
"Steve, time to get ready." He felt his son's skin and observed that he was still running a fever.
"Come on Steve," repeated Mark. "George will be back in a few minutes."
Steve opened his eyes and tried to get up. A wave of dizziness swept over him and he fell back onto the bed.
"Let me guess, another symptom of the wonderful mystery drug?" asked Steve sarcastically.
"Let me help you son," answered Mark. He helped Steve into the bathroom and held him steady as he washed up and dressed. Steve was still a little wobbly and gratefully leaned on his father. George returned and together they made their way to the gangway. Jesse and Amanda were already waiting for them.
"Amanda," said Mark. I told you to stay back with CJ."
"Not to worry," she replied. "The captain arranged with one of the camp counselors to stay with CJ until he wakes up. She'll take him down to the playroom after breakfast. I'll see him later this morning. He won't be up for hours anyway."
With Mark on one side and Amanda on the other they supported Steve as they made their way slowly down the gangway to the waiting car. The local hospital was only a few minutes away. The doctor on call had been notified and was waiting at the ER entrance for their arrival. When they arrived, Steve and Jesse were both placed in wheelchairs and whisked into empty cubicles. Dr. Jared, the ER doctor on call, requested everyone wait in the waiting room while he conducted his examination of Steve and Jesse.
"I should be in there Amanda. I can't take the waiting."
"Mark, you know he's going to be fine. He was already feeling better last night. They just want to run some tests so they can give both him and Jesse the antidote."
"I know, I know. It just doesn't make it any easier."
After what seemed like hours of waiting, Dr. Jared entered the waiting room and walked over to the pacing Mark and Amanda.
"Doctor, how are my son and Dr. Travis?"
"Fortunately," began the doctor, "you caught the symptoms just in time. Dr. Travis will be fine in a few hours. We have him on an IV solution. As soon as he finishes the IV we'll take another blood test to make sure his levels are back to normal. He'll be able to go back to the ship as soon as his blood work checks out. As for your son, he experienced the more serious side effects of the drug due to the Midrin he was taking. We also have him on an IV solution, but since his symptoms were more severe we'd like to admit him.
If his tests come back within the normal range later today, I can see no reason why he can't be released before your ship sails this evening."
"Thank you Dr. Jared. Can I see Steve?"
"Of course, but I did order a sedative, so he should be asleep. Go in through the double doors and it's the second cubicle on your left. It will be a few minutes before he's taken up to his room, but you can wait with him and then accompany him upstairs."
Mark walked tentatively through the doors and into Steve's room finding him fast asleep. He didn't have long to wait before Steve was transferred to a bed on the fourth floor. Mark sank his weary body into the comfortable recliner located in the room and was soon asleep himself only to be awakened an hour later by Amanda who stopped by to update him on Jesse's condition.
"How's Jesse?" asked Mark, all signs of tiredness immediately disappearing from his eyes.
"He's fine," said Amanda, "ready to go back to the ship. Dr. Jared does want him to take it easy the rest of the day. He said he should be able to resume normal activities tomorrow."
"What a relief," answered Mark.
"How's Steve doing? Is there any change?"
"He's still asleep, but the nurse came by a few minutes ago and checked his vitals. They are almost within the normal range. He's still running a slight fever, but the rest of the side effects are easing in their intensity. I'm going to stay with him the rest of the day. If his doctor gives him the all clear, I'll bring him back to the ship tonight before we set sail. If not, we'll meet the up with you in Maui."
"I'm going to take Jesse back to the ship and settle him in for the day. I'll give you a call later on to check on Steve and to give you any news on Dr. Woods."
"Thanks Amanda, take good care of Jesse. Tell him I'll see him later." Mark gave her a hug as she left the room.
Mark dosed on and off for the next few hours while he waited for Steve to wake up.
Riley took another walk around the deck, trying to catch a glimpse of Mark, Amanda, Steve, anybody. He spotted Amanda and Jesse returning to the ship and strolled over hoping to pump them for information on Steve.
"Hi Amanda, haven't seen you or Dr. Sloan since we docked early this morning. Hope everything is all right with Steve?"
"Everything is fine with Steve, why do you ask?"
"No reason, just curious."
He and Mark went to look up one of Steve's army buddies. They'll be back later this afternoon." Amanda, barely able to keep her voice from reflecting how she really felt about Riley turned to Jesse and said, "Come on Jess, CJ is waiting for us to pick him up.
Riley, we'll see you later."
"Goodbye then," answered Riley as he walked off.
"Amanda, that was quick thinking on your part. Steve looking up an old army buddy. As soon as we get to the cabin we need to call Mark, and fill him in."
Good idea Jesse, but first we need to see if there's any word on Dr. Woods," replied Amanda.
A deep sigh coming from Steve's direction brought Mark back to the present. He had been relieving the past few days and regretting ever hearing the name Riley Matthews. He turned to see Steve trying to get his bearings, a look of confusion crossing over his face.
"Dad, Where am I?" he asked as he carefully lifted his hand to his eyes and tried to wipe the tiredness from them.
"You're in a hospital not too far from the port in Kauai. We've been here since 4:30 this morning. Your vitals are just about back to normal. Dr. Jared ordered a sedative, that's why you've been asleep all morning."
"What time is it?"
"Just a little after one."
"How's Jesse? Is he here too?"
"Jesse's fine, Amanda took him back to the ship hours ago. The doctor told him to take it easy today, but he should be back to his normal self tomorrow. She called when they got back. It seems our dear Dr. Matthews was on the lookout for us. Amanda told him we were looking up an old army buddy of yours. No word yet on the whereabouts of Dr. Woods."
"Dad it doesn't look good, instincts tell me they're not going to find him alive."
"Look, when can I get out of here? I have a date with a certain steward and doctor."
"As soon as we get the okay."
"You're my doctor, you make the call."
"Sorry Steve, today I'm just your father. I'm not back at Community General. These people are doing everything I would have done. They even ordered a CAT scan, which by the way came back normal. It was the drug counteracting with your meds that made you have such violent headaches."
"I could use a cup of coffee, would you find me some?"
"Sorry Steve, no caffeine until this drug is totally out of your system."
"Great, how about something to eat then?" asked Steve as he attempted to get up out of bed.
"I'll see what I can rustle up for you," said Mark as he ventured into the hallway and headed over to the nurse's station.
Steve was staring out of the window when he heard footsteps enter the room. He looked up and saw his dad carrying a covered tray.
"Here you go, fresh from the cafeteria."
"I hope the food is as good as Community General's."
Steve attacked his food as though he hadn't eaten in a week. He was drinking the last of his juice when Dr. Jared appeared holding his chart.
"So Doc, when can I get out of here?"
"Anxious to leave us so soon?" asked Dr. Jared as he glanced over Steve's chart. "Let's see what we have here." Dr. Jared took Steve's blood pressure, pulse, and temperature then compared them to those taken by the nurse at eleven.
"Everything seems to be back to normal. How's your headache?"
"It's there, but not as intense. I've had worse."
"I have reservations about releasing you so soon, but since your father is a physician, I can see no reason why you can't continue your vacation. I would recommend however that you take it very slow the next few days. I'll have the nurse prepare your chart for discharge. Mr. Sloan, please heed my warning and take it easy. Dr. Sloan," added the doctor, "it was a pleasure making your acquaintance."
"Likewise Doctor, and thank you for everything."
"Yeah, thank you Doctor," added Steve. Then turning to his father he said, "Dad, let's get out of here. I have a score to settle."
Mark and Steve took a taxi back to the ship, not wanting to impose on the captain's goodwill anymore than necessary.
"Steve, you're going to have to make Riley believe that you're experiencing side effects from the Nardil Kimo slipped you until we have word from Captain Rhodos."
"Don't worry about me Dad, it's Matthews and Kimo that need to worry."
They arrived back at the ship and were greeted by George, who immediately took them to the Captain's office.
"Lt. Sloan, it is a relief to see you are feeling better. My profound apologies that a member of my crew is responsible for your illness."
"You have nothing to apologize for, Captain," said Steve.
"Have you received word from Honolulu?" asked Mark.
"No Doctor, it is most upsetting to think of Jonathan as been missing."
Steve nodded his head in agreement then made a decision.
"It's time I finally took care of Dr. Matthews once and for all," said Steve as he turned away from his father and Captain Rhodos and headed for the door.
"Steve! No! You're in no condition to go up against Matthews."
"I'm feeling fine and I'll feel much better once that…" Steve was interrupted by the ringing of the phone.
"Yes Captain Williams, I have been awaiting your call… that is a relief to hear... how badly is he injured? We depart for Maui at eight o'clock… I will inform Lieutenant Sloan…
Thank you Captain Williams, goodbye."
"Captain, did they find Dr. Woods?" asked Mark.
The captain nodded his head as he gestured for Mark and Steve to take a seat. When they were both seated he himself took a seat behind his desk. Taking a deep breath he looked at the two men whom had suffered while guests on his ship. Somehow he would make it up to them.
"Captain Williams from the Honolulu Police Department just informed me that Dr. Woods has been found alive. He was badly beaten and left for dead in a sugarcane field. One of the workers discovered him earlier this afternoon and took him to a local clinic. The police could not determine his identity because he was found on the opposite end of the island miles from where his car was located and he did not have any identification. He regained consciousness long enough to identify Dr. Matthews as his assailant. The Kauai Police Department is dispatching a unit to arrest Dr. Matthews and the steward, Kimo, for attempted murder." Looking directly at Steve the captain continued, "Captain Williams is requesting that you do not attempt to apprehend the suspects until a representative of the Kauai Police Department arrives."
"Captain," said Steve rising from his chair. "You have innocent people on board this ship. Granted, most are on day trips, but I'm not going to take the chance that even one person is going to come to harm because of the likes of those two scum bags. As soon as they see the police walk up the gangway, they're going to panic and you're going to have a hostage situation on your hands."
"But Steve," began Mark.
"Dad, I have a plan." Turning to the Captain, Steve asked, "would it seem overly suspicious for a steward to be asked to deliver a message to the captain?"
"No, it is done quite frequently," answered Captain Rhodos.
"Good, have a member of your staff ask him to deliver a message to you. Your security team can be waiting for him and they can detain him until the police arrive."
Turning to his father, Steve smiled and said "Dad, I'm really not feeling well. I think I need to visit the sickbay. Maybe Dr. Matthews has something to help me feel better." Turning again to the Captain, Steve continued, "Captain, have your security people inform the police that they'll find us in the sickbay."
"Good luck, my friends."
As Mark and Steve reached the corridor leading to the sickbay, Steve turned to his father and said, "Dad, this can get dangerous. I want you to stay here."
"I won't hear of it Steve. You need me there to convince Riley of how sick you are. He'll think it's suspicious if I don't come with you."
"I guess you're right." Steve looked at his father, "Ready? Okay, it's show time."
Steve leaned on his father and began moaning as Mark opened the door leading to the sickbay.
"Riley, I need your help, it's Steve."
"Dr. Sloan, what happened?" Riley asked with faked concern as he helped Steve to a chair.
"We were visiting an old army pal of his, when Steve complained that he didn't feel well. We decided to come back to the ship because Steve forgot his meds. A few minutes after he took his pill, he began complaining of dizziness, and shortness of breath."
"Sounds like an allergic reaction to his medication?" Riley suggested, knowing full well it wasn't and enjoying every minute of Steve's agony.
"Could be, I wanted to see how adequate the facilities were on board ship, before I decide whether or not to take him to a local hospital."
"I'll be all right Dad, I just need to lie down for a minute."
"Bring him in here Mark," said Riley as he led the way into the examination room.
They followed him into the room and Mark helped Steve onto the exam table.
"Dad, I wish you wouldn't worry. I'm only a little dizzy."
"Quiet Steve. Riley, would you hand me the stethoscope and BP cuff?" asked Mark.
Riley watched with feigned interest as Mark took Steve's vitals. He knew Mark wouldn't find anything to link him to Steve's symptoms.
"Well?" he asked.
"BP is a little elevated. Steve, just lie back; I'll retake your blood pressure in a few minutes."
"Riley, I was surprised to see you when we boarded the ship back in Oahu," said Mark.
"Not as surprised as I was to see you Dr. Sloan," he answered.
"Captain Rhodos was telling us during dinner the night before, that Dr. Woods wasn't ill" continued Mark.
"It's a good thing you were on call Matthews, or else you never would have made the cruise. What were you doing? Waiting by the phone?" asked Steve, all the while watching Riley's reaction.
"I guess I was at the right place at the right time, Lieutenant."
It surprised the captain when he didn't report to the ship and he became very concerned when he didn't answer his page," added Mark
"That is strange for Dr. Woods," answered Riley as he began to shift his weight from one foot to the other.
"I'll tell you what's strange Matthews. It's how a person that was beaten and left for dead could possibly report for work the next day!" Shouted Steve as he leaped from the exam table and tackled the unsuspecting Riley. They both fell to the floor and rolled into a heap. Steve recovered first and grabbed Riley by the collar. He pulled him to his feet, but Riley swung at Steve and connected with a right hook. He pushed Steve into Mark causing them both to fall against the instrument tray, then made a dash for the door.
"Dad, are you all right?" Steve asked as he tried to catch his breath.
"Yes, go find him. Be careful!"
Steve ran out the door. There was only one way for Riley to run since the doctor's office was at the end of a long corridor. Steve spotted him as he sped towards the busy lobby. Riley stopped long enough to see if Steve was still following him. He saw Steve gaining on him and ducked through another door leading to the deck outside. Riley ran, pushing passengers out of his way, knocking them to the ground, until he heard the sound of approaching police sirens. He stopped, checked his bearings then crouched behind a lifeboat in the process of being painted. He noticed a long handled paintbrush and picked it up. "Not much of a weapon," he said, "but it's better than nothing."
The chase through the ship's lobby generated a crowd of onlookers impeding Steve's pursuit of Riley. He ran into Jesse and Amanda who were surprised to see that it was he running through the lobby.
"Steve!" exclaimed Amanda.
"Can't talk! Find Dad…sickbay…hurry." Said Steve as he headed for the outer deck.
"Amanda, go find Mark. I'm going after Steve," shouted Jesse, already racing after him.
Jesse caught up with Steve as he stopped to catch his breath again.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Steve panted.
"Where did he go?" asked Jesse.
"He couldn't have gone very far. I noticed all the stairs leading to the upper deck are manned by the Captain's security team. He's hiding over there somewhere Jesse. At least I think he is."
"You're looking better than I expected you too," observed Jesse.
"Yeah well, I'll feel a whole lot better when we get him into custody. Look Jesse, I heard the sirens a minute ago, go find the detective in charge and send him this way."
"You're not going to do anything stupid while I'm gone are you?"
"Who me? What would ever give you that idea?" Steve said with a grin as he watched Jesse hurry off.
Steve walked slowly towards the starboard side of the ship knowing that Riley was within earshot. "Riley! I know you can hear me. Give it up before someone else gets hurt." He stopped and scanned the area. He thought he saw something move behind the stairwell, but it only turned out to be a discarded glass from the bar.
"Riley," continued Steve. "You know we're going to find you. Make it easier on yourself."
Riley wiped his brow as he sensed Steve edging closer and closer to the lifeboat that hid him from view. He knew he was within minutes of capture, but he wasn't giving up without a fight. Steve Sloan ruined his life once, he was going to make him pay if it was the last thing he did.
As Steve approached the line of lifeboats he noticed Riley's hair blowing in the breeze. He was about to jump him when Jesse returned with two police officers.
"Steve, these are Officers Hui and Trung."
"Lieutenant, we already have the steward in custody, did you see in which direction Dr. Matthews went?"
Steve motioned behind the lifeboat as he answered the officer. "Officers, I checked this area and came up empty. He must have headed in the other direction."
The two officers nodded their heads in understanding as they drew their weapons. "Lieutenant, thank you. We'll take over from here. We're going to check the aft side of the ship."
"Come on Jesse, let's go find Dad."
Riley, thinking Steve and the officers had walked away, tentatively stepped out of his hiding place. As he stood up, he was greeted by a quick jab to the face. Steve grimaced in pain as he stepped aside for the two officers to apprehend Riley.
Jesse asked him, "Are you all right?"
"I'm okay," Steve replied, as he faced Riley who was still struggling with the two officers.
"Let's see your father get you out of this one," said Steve as he leaned against the railing.
"You haven't seen the last of me Sloan! I'll make you pay!" was Riley's response as he was led off the ship.
"Steve, let's get some ice on that hand," suggested Jesse as the two friends slowly made their way back to the main lobby. Mark and Amanda spotted them and hurried over to see if they were all right.
"Steve, Jesse, I was so worried…" said Mark as he gave each one a hug.
"It's over, Dad. The good guys won."
"The good guys need to get themselves over to sickbay for a checkup," ordered Amanda.
"I'm…" started Jesse.
"No arguments!" insisted Amanda, "Now move!"
Steve glanced over at Jesse and shrugged his shoulders as he said, "And I thought Dad was bad."
"Poor CJ," added Jesse.
Dinner that evening was a happy occasion. The Sloan Party, including Connie and Sam, were again guests of Captain Rhodos. After everyone had been seated, the Captain motioned to his Maitre D and soon thereafter, everyone was rewarded with the succulent red wine straight from the captain's own private stock.
" Dr. Travis, it seems your appetite has returned," observed the captain as he watched him devour everything that was placed before him.
"Captain, I haven't felt this good since I left Los Angeles. I've forgotten what it's like not to have an upset stomach."
"Dr. Travis, I can assure you that our cruises are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable. Which brings me to my announcement. I have been in contact with our corporate office. On behalf of the cruise line, I have been authorized to issue you all an invitation to take another cruise as our guests. We want you to experience the best we have to offer."
Mark, Steve, Amanda, and Jesse looked at one another and said, "Another cruise?"