The Sea Star cruise ship looked like a huge Christmas tree with thousands of twinkling lights cruising towards the Bahamas.
Amber Knowles stepped out onto her cabin’s private balcony and pulled her long blonde hair into a ponytail. She slid off her pink flip flops and took a deep breath of the warm salty air hoping it would ease her seasickness.
The cruise was a senior class trip to celebrate graduation. Amber and her friends had partied in Key West during their first port stop and had been dancing the night away at the onboard nightclub Aqua.
Now as she watched as the ship cut through the cool waters of the ocean, she felt another wave of nausea wash over her. A combination of too much alcohol and seasickness was wrecking havoc on her body. The wind picked up and tossed one of her flip flops under the four-foot barred railing.
Damn. I just bought those in Key West she thought as she watched the shoe disappear in the twisting white water below.
She wondered what was taking Josh so long to come back. She had just met him at Aqua – where her friends were having fun without her – and when she started feeling ill he offered to walk her back to the cabin. Josh worked as a VIP host at the nightclub and she thought he was very cute and sweet. He had left almost an hour ago to get her something to settle her stomach. Maybe he had to go back to work she thought.
Hearing a clicking noise behind her, Amber turned around and watched as the sliding glass door opened.
“Hey there. I thought you forgot me.” Amber said as Josh stood in the doorway. He had a strange look on his face. “What’s wrong?”
Someone gave Josh a hard push onto the balcony.
Her stomach gave a lurch as she saw another man behind Josh with a gun pointed to his head.
“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” Amber screamed at the man.
“Move it.” The man said pushing Josh further out onto the balcony.
“Leave the girl alone. She doesn’t know anything.” Josh finally said.
“What is going on?” Amber asked again. “Josh, who is this?”
“Come on Amber. Join the party.” The man said to her.
It took her a second to realize he knew her name. How does he know me? What is going on?
Amber pressed her back into the balcony railing.
“Leave her out of this. She doesn’t know anything.” Josh pleaded with the man.
“Not my problem. No witnesses.” The man raised the gun and pointed toward Amber.
Amber turned around and saw the lights of the Bahamian coastline. With shaking hands she climbed onto the railing and straddled it. She had one leg over the rail and the other dangling over the balcony. Contemplating, she looked down at the ten story drop down into the swirling water below.
“Look we can work this out. I will tell you what you want to know if you just let her go inside.” Josh looked between Amber and the man.
“Don’t think so Josh.” The man held the gun steady at Amber.
Amber felt the cold finger of fear grip her heart as she looked again at the water. She heard a loud pop as her vision exploded into darkness.