When Savannah signs on to perform glassblowing on a ship, part of the appeal is that she’ll get a chance to reconnect with her boyfriend Edward’s family. An added bonus is that Edward’s cousin, Ian, will be joining them on board. But when Ian disappears at the beginning of the cruise, the ship’s authorities initially consider it suicide.
Savannah tries to balance her growing suspicions with work on her shows, but her relationship with the other glass artists begins to crack. And she can’t let love color her judgment when Edward suddenly jumps to the top of the suspect list. His fate is in Savannah’s hands, and she’ll do everything she can—on land and sea—to clear his name . . .
Praise for the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series
“Hollon hits a homerun.” —RT Book Reviews
“Will keep you guessing to the end!”
—Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Friday morning, Webb's Glass Shop
"It's a terrible time," said Savannah Webb. "I can't take a week off and leave everything to Amanda and Jacob. It feels wrong."
"It's the chance of a lifetime." Edward Morris folded his arms over his chest to reflect Savannah's stance. "The offer is a seven-day cruise in the Mediterranean that begins and ends in Barcelona, Spain. What's a little scheduling sacrifice compared to this opportunity?"
They stood eye to eye and toe to toe for a few moments. Savannah once again appreciated that Edward felt unthreatened by her six-foot height and unusual strength built by years of glassblowing large objects using heavy molten glass.
"What opportunity?" asked Amanda Blake, assistant manager and part-time stained-glass instructor. Savannah and Edward broke apart quickly.
Amanda stood next to them at the checkout counter of Webb's Glass Shop. "I'm always a little suspect of the word opportunity." She finger-quoted. "It can mean many things."
"In this case," said Savannah, "the opportunity is to work as the substitute glassblower on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean."
"That's awesome! When do you leave?" She adjusted the large statement necklace on her generous chest. It was made of saucer-sized glass medallions that clinked when she moved. Amanda was always moving. "How long will you be gone?"
"The problem is that the cruise is for a week, and since it leaves out of Barcelona, Edward wants to go a day early so I can meet his family in England. Then we'll fly out to board the ship on Sunday."
Amanda clapped her hands together. "So, what's the problem? I can handle Webb's Glass Shop and the beginner's stained-glass class by myself. Jacob is perfectly happy over at Webb's Studio. It's only a few blocks away, so I'm not too far if he needs something."
Jacob Underwood, Savannah's apprentice, had recently moved to her expanded business site in the Warehouse District of town.
Edward spoke up. "He's been handling things very well. Your student clients know about his Asperger's syndrome. He knows everyone who rents a studio. If a new student wants to rent space, he can send them over for Amanda to handle the paperwork and payments."
Savannah momentarily tried suppressing a giant grin, but it forced its way out into a hearty laugh.
"You're absolutely right." She gave Edward a big hug. "This opportunity will not come around again. There's a bazillion things to get organized, but I really want to go."
* * *
Savannah Webb checked her watch, then looked out the rental car window for the sixth time in thirty seconds. "Are you sure they open this early?" She looked over to Edward who sat beside her on their way to the Miami passport office. They had taken the 7:30 A.M. flight from Tampa Airport, which had meant a 4:30 A.M. wake-up call.
"Our appointment is at 10:45. It's only 9:30. We're in good time." Edward looked back at Savannah. "I still can't believe you don't have a passport."
"Not as many Americans travel outside the U.S. as you Brits; you guys are always looking for holiday trips abroad."
"If you spent one dreary winter in England, you would go mad. You take the sunshine for granted."
"True. Anyway, Dad did so much traveling when he was working for the government. He always said that there was so much to see in this country, why go to foreign parts while we still have so much to enjoy right here? You have wanderlust — not me."
Savannah enjoyed the occasional weekend trip, but most of the time she was perfectly content to kick back in her little Craftsman cottage with Edward and their dog and cat fur babies, Rooney and Snowy.
"It's not only about seeing more sites. It's about experiencing different cultures in a way you can't appreciate without walking around on their streets, eating their food, and facing their weather. You grew up in St. Petersburg, then spent a few years in Seattle at the Pilchuck Studio. Quite a narrow view."
Savannah tilted her head and turned toward Edward. "But I read a lot of books — more than any of the kids I grew up with. All the librarians knew me."
"Doesn't count. You can't smell the spice market in New Delhi without standing there."
Savannah reached over and held his hand. "Okay. I'll give you that point. But you must agree I'm certainly changing my outlook today. This is an incredible opportunity for me. Thanks for helping."
"I only helped with the passport — stuff I know. My travel agent did the rest. Jan is a miracle worker with travel challenges. You're the one that's done the impossible to get everything arranged so you can spend ten days away from the shop." He looked at her slip of paper. "Thirteen? Really?"
"Shush up," Savannah whispered as they sat. "It's my lucky number."
"Number thirteen," the receptionist announced to the waiting room in a strong voice that hinted she had a musical background.
Savannah jumped up so abruptly that she dropped the folder containing her documents all over the floor. She stooped to gather them up and bumped heads with Edward. "Ouch!" She plopped down on her behind and rubbed her forehead. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to help." Edward gathered the papers and slid them into Savannah's bright green folder, then pulled her up by the hand. "You seem flustered."
"Good guess." Savannah felt a flush rising in her cheeks. She looked over to the receptionist who was frowning like a judge sentencing a convicted drug dealer. Savannah resisted the urge to step forward at once. She first straightened her papers. Then she put on her brightest smile and walked up to the receptionist's desk.
"Hi, I'm appointment number thirteen."
"If you're ready, step through the aisle over to cubicle number eight."
Number eight — hmmm. That's lucky in China and unlucky in India. I think I'll lean toward China's belief.
Savannah stepped into the tiny space that held a desk barely wide enough for a computer monitor and a mouse. There was enough room for a guest chair and the passport administrator — nothing else.
"Hi, my name is Margie Adams. Please have a seat, Miss Webb." Savannah smiled and sat. Margie must have been the oldest civil servant in the world. She looked to be nearing ninety, if not already there. However, she was meticulously groomed and had curly white hair, a smooth ivory complexion, and maroon eyeshadow that accented her piercing eyes. "Good, it looks like you have your documents. Hand them over and I'll fire up the application program. We'll get this passport process steaming along so you can go to" — she looked at Savannah's passport request form — "London, England."
"Yes, we have tickets to leave on this evening's eight-o'clock flight from Miami."
Miss Adams was flipping through Savannah's papers and her fingers were flying over the submission form entries. "Everything looks good, Savannah. I always appreciate an orderly mind." She paused. "Wait. Here's your driver's license, but where's your birth certificate?"
"It should be right there." Savannah reached out for the folder. "May I check?"
"Sure." Margie closed the folder and handed it over.
Savannah flipped through the documents and sure enough, the birth certificate wasn't where she had placed it. Her heart jumped two beats. Without that, there was no way she was getting a passport, flying to London, or boarding that cruise ship. She flipped through the papers one more time. It was gone.
"Excuse me," said Edward from the narrow hallway. "Are you looking for this?" He held up her birth certificate. "The receptionist said I could bring it down."
Savannah gave him cow eyes in relief, took the paper, and put it where it belonged.
Margie stretched out her hand for the folder. "Louise must like the looks of you. She would normally have let this explode into a massive issue, then play the martyr." She grinned at Edward, then turned back to her computer screen. "You can go back to the waiting room. It won't be long."
Edward left and Margie peered at the justification section. "It says that you're going to work on a cruise ship?" She scanned Savannah from top to bottom. "You don't seem like a cabin porter type. What are you going to do? Are you an entertainer?"
"More like an educator." Savannah smiled and leaned forward. "I'm taking the place of an injured glass artist on a cruise ship leaving out of Barcelona. I'll be doing glassblowing demonstrations on one of the larger ships for their seven-day Mediterranean cruise. The poor girl will be released from the hospital in a few days, so I'm only filling in until she returns."
"Glassblowing? On a cruise ship?" She lifted a single eyebrow. "You can't even have candles in your cabin on a cruise ship. How can they have glass-blowing demonstrations?"
"It's a special setup. The Hot Shop was designed by Crystal Glass Works to run on electricity instead of gas fires. The techniques are a little different, but they heat the glass in electric furnaces — no fire at all. It will be tricky for me to learn how to work the glass without using a blowtorch, but what a wonderful opportunity to see the Mediterranean!"
All the while, Margie was tapping away into the application form template. It was disconcerting that she could hold a conversation and simultaneously type at lightning speed. Margie filled in the last field and pressed the enter key with a flourish. "There, now let me check one last time for accuracy." She sped through each field delicately flicking the tab key. "Fantastic. Everything looks perfect. I'll submit this to the back-room clerks who will create your brand-new passport. All you have to do is come back here at two today and it will be ready."
"Thank you very much." Savannah grinned like a Cheshire cat. It appears that thirteen and eight are my lucky numbers.
She returned to the reception area. Edward stood and splayed both hands palms up. "So? You look happy."
"Yes, we can pick up my shiny new passport this afternoon. I'm hungry."
"Of course, you are. When there are issues, you can't eat. As soon as the issues are resolved, you're starving. I've sussed out the pattern."
They arrived back in plenty of time. Margie nodded and waved to them. They only had to wait a few minutes until Savannah's passport was ready. Then they drove to the Miami International Airport to turn in the rental and check in for the flight to Heathrow Airport. They received special treatment because Edward's parents had upgraded their economy class tickets to business class as soon as Edward told them they were coming to visit. Jan had used her insider contacts to make it happen.
"They must be anxious to make you welcome," said Edward.
"What do you mean?"
"The two of them travel business class across the pond each and every time, but when they send me a ticket? It's crunch class both ways," said Edward.
Squeezing in a family visit before the cruise ship embarked was an opportunity Edward couldn't resist. Savannah was looking forward to seeing Edward's parents again.
The first special treat was the short line for business class passengers at the check-in counter. The second treat was the pre-check TSA line through security, followed by the third treat, a pass to the airport lounge to await boarding time.
They enjoyed a local craft beer accompanied by small plates of finger food. Savannah pulled out the illustrated instruction manual she had received from Crystal Glass Works that detailed the procedures for glassblowing with the electric hot shop on board the cruise ship. She reviewed the handwritten notes she had made in the margins when she took the training class.
When their boarding time was called, Edward and Savannah walked into the business class cabin and Savannah gaped at the size of her personal space. Their large, wide seats were in the center aisle so that they sat side by side yet each had unrestricted access to the aisle. She hefted her carry-on into the ample overhead compartment.
In her seat, the best available noise-canceling Bose headphones were sitting on top of a decent-sized pillow and a quilted duvet. A small amenity kit contained slip-on socks, a sleep mask, ear plugs, moisturizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, and breath mints.
As soon as Savannah had settled into her seat, a flight attendant offered her a glass of champagne. "Welcome aboard, Miss Webb. I hope you enjoy your flight."
Savannah turned to Edward who had also received his glass of champagne. They looked at each other and clicked glasses. Savannah toasted, "Good luck to us on the first of many international adventures. Cheers."CHAPTER 2
Saturday morning, Arrivals Hall in Heathrow Airport, England
Savannah felt Edward's hand on her elbow as he guided her through a confusing assault of bright lights, blaring announcements, and scurrying passengers of every type. She looked at Edward's focused smile. He likes this kind of challenge. Relax — he's got this. Let him shine.
In minutes, they were outside in the chilly autumn air. Edward stood on his toes, peered across the street, and waved his arm. A small red MINI Cooper car pulled up and a not-quite-so-tall replica of Edward got out of the car and popped the trunk.
"Hello, you must be Savannah. I'm Ian Morris, Edward's better-looking cousin." Savannah shook his outstretched hand and matched his winning grin with a surprised smile.
"Hey," said Edward, helping to get their two suitcases and carry-on bags crammed into the boot with practiced efficiency. "Who says you're the better-looking cousin? Certainly not my mum, but maybe yours. Savannah, you be the judge."
"Ian, you look exactly like a younger" — she playfully patted Edward's tummy — "slimmer version of Edward."
"Oi!" yelped Edward as he sucked in the start of a beer belly. "I'm going to work this off on the cruise." Ian scrunched his brow. "From what I've been told, we should all expect to gain at least a stone. I intend to gain mine downing exotic drinks with tiny brollies stuck in them."
Savannah enjoyed their easy banter. "Your parents must be very proud of your achievements to give you this cruise as a graduation present."
Ian's face flashed a dark look, then he grinned. "Yeah, I took a wayward path to University, but I got there at the end of the day."
She gingerly folded herself into the backseat on the left-hand side of the car. It felt odd that she was on the passenger side until they pulled out onto the road.
Her heart leaped to her throat in disorientation. The cars are driving in the wrong direction! She blinked several times and calmed herself.
Savannah grabbed the back of the front seat and the hold bar above the top of the window to wedge herself against the sway of the swerving car as it sped around a traffic circle to emerge onto a small country road. "Ian! Did you make that turn on two wheels?"
"Yes, ma'am. I am required to keep at least two wheels on the pavement at all times. Three wheels is harder and four on the ground is just plain boring and I'm not a bore."
Savannah tapped Edward on the shoulder. He turned. "Are we going to survive this drive?"
"Yes, Ian likes to make an exciting first impression, but he settles down as soon as I remind him of the standard death threat he receives if he doesn't start driving like a sane person instantly. Ian. This is your one and only warning." Ian switched gears and reduced his speed to pace the other cars on the road. Savannah was fascinated with the amount of gear changing going on with Ian's left hand on the gear knob while he steered with the right.
Savannah wedged herself even farther back into the seat. They headed north to a mid-sized town called St. Albans, about twenty-five miles as the crow flies but more than forty as the road twisted. It was the family village where most of Edward's relations lived.
Savannah felt a little disoriented. Her eyes were a bit gritty and she was thirsty. She was right at the point of nodding off when they arrived. She gave her head a quick shake.
This must be jet lag. I never noticed the Seattle to St. Petersburg time difference when I visited Dad.
They pulled into a short driveway in front of a two-story, freestanding house with batten and beam construction on the outer walls. It was the real 1750s deal. The roof was traditionally thatched and all the multipaned windows had fairytale shutters with flowerboxes spilling over with bright blooms and ivy.
The glossy black door opened and Edward's mother scurried out to accept a kiss on her cheek from her son and then she kissed Savannah on each cheek and gave her a gentle hug.
"Darling, I'm so happy you're here. Welcome to St. Albans." Glenda was plump with a cheerful flush on the apples of her high cheeks. Her smile was easy — it creased her face with crow's feet and dimples — and her eyes were the same shade of green that Savannah loved in Edward.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Shattered at Sea"
Copyright © 2018 Cheryl Hollon.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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