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Murder on the Moonlight

Summary:
AU, All Human. There’s been a murder and it’s up to Bella Swan to discover whodunit. On this cruise ship, there’s plenty of suspects. Was it the honeymooning newlyweds, the young fashion designer or, perhaps, that brooding, handsome stranger? You decide!


Notes:


4. Nausea and Nosiness

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2334   Review this Chapter

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Part Four:
Nausea and Nosiness

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I was right.

Groaning as my stomach heaved, I rested my head against the cool glass of the taunting mini-fridge. So desperate for a little relief, I didn’t even notice how delicious the chocolate bar looked in there.

Now, I knew I got my motion sickness but I guess, in the excitement of going on this cruise, I’d forgotten that I also got seasick. I blamed Jacob for that—if he hadn’t been so gung-ho that we take this four day trip, I never would have stepped foot on this boat. Not to mention the fact that I’d wished him all the pain in the world with his food poisoning. Now I was the one who was having a hard time keeping their breakfast down.

And it’s only been twenty minutes since the stupid boat left port…

The nausea had kicked in almost immediately after Jessica left, which kind of amused me a little. You would think her overexcitement would invoke my gag reflex more than the gentle swaying of a cruise ship. Annoying or not, though, her appearance had been a huge distraction. Without that distraction, there was nothing to waylay that ‘I’m gonna throw up’ signals from my brain to my stomach.

My mouth was so dry I felt like I’d swallowed some sandpaper and chased it with a handful of cotton balls. I gulped a few times, hoping the horrible feeling would pass.

After a few more minutes of dry heaves and nasty hiccups, the nausea finally relented. My head was pounding, my eyes were tearing and the smell of the ocean would surely make it all worse, but at least I’d made it through the worst of it without puking on anything.

I had the feeling that, no matter how friendly Jessica seemed, that friendliness would not last if I threw up all over her fancy luggage.

Once I was certain that I could stand up without any dizzy spells knocking me back down, I slowly got to my shaky feet. I nearly tripped over my duffel bag. When the first wave of nausea hit, I’d dropped the half-empty bag to the ground. It was still there, lying forgotten; some underwear, my headphones and a bag of toiletries was all spilled out on the floor.

Wrapping my arm around my queasy stomach, I used the toe of my sneakered foot to gently knock my strewn belongings back in the bag. Then, since the bag was still in my way, I gently kicked it back over the bunks.

You know, Jessica was right. I should’ve just unpacked later.

When I’d been lying on the floor, moaning to myself, I’d seen a small door on the opposite end of our cabin and I hoped beyond all hope that it led to a bathroom. I didn’t have time before the first bout of seasickness really kicked in to find out what was behind the door, but I was back on my feet again and definitely curious. If I got sick again, it would be good if this room has a toilet to be sick in.

Thank the Moonlight gods, it was a bathroom! I don’t know what I would have done without it—not taken a shower for a couple days, for one. True, it was even more cramped than the cabin, but there was a shower, a toilet, a sink and small vanity complete with a mirror. I bet Jessica would get a lot of use out of that.

I didn’t have to actually use the bathroom yet but, considering how shaky I still felt, I thought it was a good idea to rinse my face with some cold water or something. Anything to help me feel better faster.

It took me a couple of seconds—and a bruised palm—to realize that the taps on the sink were ornamental; another few seconds and I figured out that, in order to turn the faucet on, I needed to stick my hands under the spout. The water that rushed out was cool and, after splashing my face and patting it dry with a hand towel, I was feeling better.

I wouldn’t be able to run a marathon or spin circles in the middle of the floor right away but I was pretty sure I could make it out of the cabin without getting that sick again. Who knows? Maybe the salty air would actually be good for me.

And, I did tell Jessica that I would be out on deck soon. It was only right that I left our room eventually.

Besides, if I didn’t, she knew where to find me.

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I didn’t know where to look for Jessica. The ship was pretty big. Add in my questionable sense of direction and I’d be lucky if I didn’t get lost while trying to search her out.

My best bet, I decided, was to take something she’d said and go with that. When we were in our cabin, she’d mentioned saving me a seat for lunch; maybe, if I could find the dining area, then I could find Jessica. If not… well, I did try.

Courtesy of my lingering queasiness, I knew I wasn’t about to try to eat anything. But, if I was lucky, maybe the kitchen had some alka-seltzer or a couple of Dramamines. I’d even drink some ginger ale at this point. Anything to settle my stomach.

The dining room on the deck, when I finally found it, was impressively decorated and sparkling clean, but not very large. I figured it must not be the only one—I really needed to find a map of this ship—and that made me frustrated. On the one hand, if this was the place Jessica came to eat lunch, then it wouldn’t be all that difficult to find her; on the other, if her explorations had taken her all over the Moonlight, then she might have stopped to eat lunch somewhere else entirely.

Shaking my head, ignoring my lingering headache, I chose to just sit down at an empty seat and hope for the best. I think I would have been better off in the long run if I didn’t have a roommate at all—trying to keep this Jessica girl happy was taking too much out of me.

As if I were sitting in a restaurant, a uniformed waiter came over immediately to see what I needed. Without paying much attention to him, I ordered a glass of ginger ale and mumbled something about waiting for someone. The room smelled strongly of all different sorts of good and, as soon as I opened my mouth, I felt incredible nauseous again.

If the waiter noticed anything strange about my behavior he didn’t show it. He nodded once, offered me a small smile and hurried off to help the elderly couple who’d taken a seat at a table close to mine.

Eager to take my mind off of the food smells and the havoc they were wreaking on my unsettled stomach, I propped my chin on my hand and began to take in everything around me. Maybe, if I looked real hard, I’d find Jessica.

To my surprise—and partly to my chagrin—I did.

She was standing on my side, maybe seven or eight tables down. She wasn’t sitting but, instead, was leaning flirtatiously in to talk to someone who was sitting at the table. He was a good-looking guy—strong features, dimpled smile and black curls to rival Jessica’s—but too big and bearlike for my tastes. Full of muscles, too.

Feeling something like a spy, I watched the two of them from my table. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I saw her mouth move, followed by a rather energetic laugh coming from the guy.

Suddenly, as if she could feel the weight of my vaguely interested expression on her back, Jessica turned around and, her smile as wide as it was before, she spotted me. She waved her hand wildly; knowing that wave was meant for me, I offered a tiny, less ostentatious wave back.

Before I knew it, she’d turned back around, kissed the guy on his cheek and started bouncing her way over to my table. Just the speed with which she moved added to my queasiness.

Trying not to watch her hop over, I purposely looked past her until she was stationery again. My eyes strayed back over to the table she’d just been standing at. The burly boy was still there—but he was no longer alone.

This tall, thin blonde girl with a supermodel’s face and a body to kill for had taken the seat opposite of him. Her mouth was moving at a frantic pace, one of her long, slender arms reached out as she gestured behind her—gestured at Jessica. From the scowl on her face and the frown on his, it was easy to see that they were arguing about something.

I wonder…

Jessica pulled one of the chairs away from the table—the loud squeak drew my attention away from the tiff across the room—and took her seat. "Bella! I’m so glad you’re—oh… are you okay?" she asked, her greetings cut off as she got a better look at me. "You look kinda green."

"I’m okay," I told her hurriedly. I didn’t want to think about how bad I looked. "Just a little seasickness, that’s all. I’ll be fine as soon as I get something to drink."

"Seasick? That must suck, and you on a cruise and everything. Did you order a drink yet, or did you want me to go get it?"

I shook my head. "No, thanks. The waiter should be bringing it out soon, but," I said, trying to steer the subject away from my stomach, "how’s your trip going so far? Enjoying yourself?"

The little I knew about this girl told me that, if I brought up the right subject—most likely Jessica herself—she would be more than happy to carry the conversation. All I would be expected to do was supply the appropriate responses to any cues. A lot of nodding and well-timed smiles and I could sit back, relax and pray that I wouldn’t be introducing my bowl of cereal to my new roommate.

I was partly right. Jessica was all too glad to start talking—but she also wanted a lot more out of me as a listener.

"Definitely. I’m so glad I got to come on this cruise! Not only do I have a great roomie," she gushed, pausing only to smile encouragingly at me, "but I actually ran into someone I used to know!"

There was a sudden break and it took me a second to realize that I’d missed my first cue. "Oh—I mean, you did?"

"Uh-huh. Did you see that dark-haired hunk I was talking to?"

Since she’d seen me staring at her before, I couldn’t lie. "Yeah, I did."

"That’s Emmett McCarty. We went to the same high school, even though he graduated a few years before me. It was so nice to see him here and get a chance to catch up for a few minutes. He’s actually on his honeymoon!"

"His honeymoon? So that blonde girl with him… that’s his wife?" If it was, then it was no wonder she looked so mad. The way Jessica was obviously flirting with him, it seemed as if she had a little more than catching up on her mind.

Jessica glanced over her shoulder and, seemingly oblivious to the way the blonde girl was shooting daggers across the room at her, she giggled. "Yup, that’s Rosalie Hale… I guess she’s Rosalie McCarty now. She was in my school, too."

Even though she was laughing and her tone was light, there was a worried look on her face as she turned back to look at me.

"But enough about them, I must be boring you with talk about people I used to know," she said, suddenly determined to take my attention off of the newlyweds behind her. "Did you hear who else is on the Moonlight? You’ll just die when I tell you, just die!"

Well, her exuberance was back. Whoever it was, it had to be someone. "I don’t know. Who?"

"Mary Alice Brandon!"

That name didn’t mean anything to me at all. I shook my head. "I’m sorry… who?"

She looked exasperated, though she still exuded excitement that this was person was on board. "Mary Alice Brandon… you know? Of MAB?"

"Mab? You mean like Queen Mab, from Romeo and Juliet?"

"Silly, Bella," she said, her turn to shake her head in amusement. "MAB, the fashion line?"

I was confused. "She named her fashion line after a pagan queen?"

Jessica’s explanation was cut off when a waiter finally came out with my ginger ale. This was a different waiter, I noticed, as he sat my drink down carefully in front of me. Unlike the first one, who was short, dark-haired and a little pimply, this guy was tall, blond and he had a very handsome face. I probably stared at him longer than I should have.

I was beginning to think I needed to get off this boat soon; all these really good-looking people were going to give me a complex.

Aware that I was probably ogling him, I thanked him with a stutter and he—Jasper, according to the name tag he wore—left with a curious expression on his face.

Jessica’s high-pitched giggle reminded me that I wasn’t alone, as much as I wished I could be. Feeling my face heat up, I turned my head to look at her. She was glancing down at the table, her face almost as red as mine surely was.

When she was sure that Jasper had one, she looked up. That coy, flirtatious smile she’d worn when talking to Emmett McCarty was back. "Wasn’t he just a cutie? He can serve me anytime."

I didn’t trust myself to answer her so I took a long drink from my soda first. Then, once I swallowed, I managed to say nonchalantly, "He’s okay."

Her look of incredible disbelief was too exaggerated to ignore. "Just okay, Bella?" She shook her head. "Well, if he’s just ‘okay’, what do you think about that guy?"

"What guy?"

"That guy sitting right over there… the one who hasn’t taken his eyes off of you since he walked in here."