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Recently widowed after thirty-five years of marriage, Maude MacGinness steps aboard the Windjammer Cruise ship determined to make this Wedding Anniversary trip her last farewell to her husband’s memory. However, this time she travels alone. Her roommate would be a stranger instead of her life-time partner. Sharing her stateroom, a willowy Chinese gossipy teenager turns up with more luggage than royalty, its contents perpetually scattered about their shared quarters. In spite of this inconvenience, Maude is determined to make this trip, so struggles to be polite to this disruptive youngster. She concentrates on videographing the voyage for a proposed travel log that she plans to sell to the school system.
Knees nearly buckling from the unaccustomed heat of the tropics as it boiled over her, Maude MacGinness deisembarked the commercial airliner. Fighting the weight of her carry-on bag and the awkward, rigid, suitcase-sized camera case, she struggled to catch her breath in the humid air. Perspiration instantly dewed her upper lip and trickled down her temples. Her sunglasses slid down her nose. In exasperation she balanced her bag and shoved her glasses up.
The other passengers impatiently pushed and shoved while she paused briefly at the top of the debarkation steps waiting for those who had deplaned ahead of her to continue downward.
Maude forced her eyes to focus on the three-foot-high letters, “St. John’s--Antigua,” which shimmered in the intense sunlight. This was where she and Jim had started their honeymoon venture so long ago. She squinted against the brightness of the tropical sky and pulled her sun visor a little lower over her face.
The sharp corner of a briefcase jabbed into her ample form, throwing her off balance. She staggered against the railing, and glanced about with a caustic glare. The gentleman behind her winked and made a wry face. She took in his tousled shock of red hair, his knobby knees poking out obtrusively beneath his travel-wrinkled walking shorts. His clunky hiking boots and sagging boot socks. The impression was indelibly forbidding.
“Sorry,” he muttered, gracing her with a sheepish grin.
Maude forced a weak smile. “That’s all right,” she assured him.
Jostled from behind by the crush of passengers eager to escape the confines of the plane, he bumped against her again.
“I’m really sorry,” he muttered with embarrassment, levering himself upright.
She took a deep breath to control her irritation. Nothing is going to spoil my mood.
She’d come a long way to pay homage to the man she held dear in her heart.
The heat had everyone on edge, she realized. All she need do was to show a little restraint, and they’d all be through customs and onboard the ship before long.
Maude grimaced a weary smile again. As she shifted to make room for the unkempt man behind her, the corner of her camera case jabbed the woman ahead of her. The woman glowered.
“Oh! Forgive me!” Maude exclaimed, hugging the over-sized case closer to herself. That’s what happens when you stand in judgment of someone else, she thought. God has a way of showing you you’re no better.
The line of passengers finally moved again, and everyone took one more step downward. Finally reaching the tarmac, Maude felt the shimmering heat intensify. It radiated up against her body in waves, making her feel a bit light-headed.
The queue of passengers immediately picked up speed as they raced across the blacktop toward the airport buildings. Perspiration trickled down between Maude’s breasts as she huffed to keep pace with the stampeding crowd. Irritably she stanched the errant flow with a quick jab of her fingers.
The redheaded man trotted along beside her. “Why in the world are we running?” he gasped in her direction.
“It’s a universal failing?” she panted. “We sit patiently... for hours in our plane seats... but as soon... as we touch ground... we have the urge to charge off... like desperate lemmings.”
“Ain’t that the truth!” He grinned.
“We’ll just have to wait in line again,” she commented.
BIO: JoEllen Conger is not one writer, but two—a pair of twins who have shared their special mind-linking abilities since children. What one doesn’t think to add to a manuscript or story, the other does. They make quite a team. And as they matured and went their separate ways, writing was the one link that always kept them together. Each twin has her own area of expertise, but enjoying their collaboration efforts, they continue to write fiction in several genres and non-fiction articles and books in various topics.
BIO (1): Joan Ellen Powell lives in Santa Cruz, California with her younger daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. She also writes under her married name, Joan C. Powell. Being a long-term member of her community, Joan Ellen is actively involved in many local organizations. She has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1989, and has served as an officer of her local chapter many times. Over the years she has been called upon to judge RWA writing contests, critique or advise other writers, mentor and review pre-published galleys and published works. She finds it a fulfilling way to make new friends.
BIO (2) Joyce Ann Kennedy lives with her husband, and a yard full of wild birds, two small dogs, and a number of cats in the dessert heat of Bakersfield, California. She not only critiques manuscripts by mail, and served as a writing contest judge for RWA, she’s accepted a more recent job as submissions editor for a local cyber-magazine, while continuing to co-write romance, fantasy, and adventure tales with her twin sister. Although the twins live miles apart, thanks to e-mail, they are in constant communications.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 304
Paper Weight (lb): 12.8
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