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Gwen and Roger June had their arms around each other, luxuriating in the feel of being free from the responsibilities of managing a major ballet production, which had been their lives for what seemed like a very long time. Slev and Constantine Gromstov were the commanders of the boat, having spent the most time on the water over the last year learning to sail, what to do and what not to do, readying themselves to sail around the world. The remaining two crew were women; one was Jinny’s girlfriend, and one a long-time friend of the Junes who they referred to as Gale the Mouth. She was beautiful, a fashionista of the highest order, and gregarious as hell. She was living up to her nickname now, raining verbal abuse down on Jinny without mercy.

“Jinny. We’re barely out of the harbor, and here you are, sick as a dog. Jinny, Guignard’s never going to kiss you again after watching you puke like this. Jinny, Mr. Toughguy, what are you doing on your knees, when we’re all back here eating canapés and drinking champagne? Jinny, don’t come back here till you brush your teeth with dishwashing detergent, cause we don’t want to smell you like you are now.”

Gale would have gone on, but Guignard, his girlfriend, took mercy on him and stuffed a sock in Gale’s mouth. She appreciated the humor as much as the others, but had to cut her man a break. Gwen heard the satellite cell phone ring down in the cabin. After a year of acting as impresario of the ballet production, Gwen never wanted to talk on the phone again. Her ear was worn down to a nubbin. She wanted weeks of hanging out at St. Barths with no responsibility, just being with Roger, eating and drinking well. No one else seemed inclined to answer, and she was tempted to let it ring itself to death, but an intuition made her go below and take the receiver from the wall rack.


“Gwen, it's Richard. How are you out there?”

“All of us are good except Jinny. He’s sick as a Russian wolfhound. We have a few waves rolling out here, and it’s killing him. How are you?” Gwen was on alert, knowing no one would call them this soon after leaving Charleston unless there was a problem.

“Gwen. Something’s happened. It’s serious.”

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