Lucy Patterson is in Las Vegas for a writer's conference. She is still grieving the loss of son who died in Guatemala eight years earlier. She declines to comment when the session presenter asks a question about terrorism. A terrorist had taken her only son of this one thing she is certain.
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She'd come back to Vegas frequently since spending time in the summer as a child. This time Lucy takes lodging at the Tally Ho motel. She hears arguing outside of her motel room. Two guys cursing out a woman.
As she sits working on a manuscript the next evening a knock on her door pulls Lucy back to reality. A small woman dressed in a tight, short clothing asks if she can come in. She's frightened but cocky. She introduces herself as Joycelle. The voices of angry men sound off as soon as she closes the motel door. They are looking for her by name and are threatening to take her out. Joycelle turns up the next day and invites Lucy to breakfast and to the Mirage to hang out. Lucy has plans to work all morning, but agrees she needs to get out a bit.
The women talk over a steak breakfast. Lucy tells her life story in generalizations. Joycelle only in her twenties is very direct. When she tests positive for HIV Lucy is the first person she tells. She's called off from her stripper job at Penthouse to deal with her current crisis. If she doesn't have her hotel rent the next day she will be evicted. The motel owners Mr. and Mrs. Patel have been arguing about the men coming and going from her room. Joycelle also placed an escort dating ad in the paper and given the hotel's phone number as her personal contact line. Mr. Patel says it happens when you have a business. Mrs. Patel wonders what kind of father would run a business that has brothel connotations with a teenage daughter on the premises taking it all in.
A colleague has signed up to attend a floating writer's conference and can't make it. He wants to know if Lucy is interested in a five day floating holiday with the obligation of presenting one reading. While on board she runs into Justin's first doctor. The man is still handsome and the memories of Dr. Carlos Cabrera and his gifted hands working to save her terribly sick new born, hit her all at once.
He and Lucy had spent time together as Justin needed different surgeries. Carlos was always a stand up guy. Many years ago he asked Lucy to help him to learn to ski. They spent the day together on all kinds of runs and later shared dinner and wine at a German restaurant. As they said goodbye Carlos asked if Lucy's husband might be worried since they spent the entire day together. She flipped the question back in his court. Neither of their spouses would be worried. They set a ski date for Lucy's next off day for the following week.
Soon they were sneaking in time to meet for drinks and dinners frequently. They made love and while Carlos was twenty-one years older than Lucy the age difference wasn't the issue. For Lucy who had grown up poor and religiously repressed in Utah, Carlos coming from a legacy of diplomats made him a poor match. She doesn't seem to mind cheating on her husband, with another woman's husband. '
Twenty years later on the ship Carlos and Lucy sleep together in his luxury cabin. His wife is aboard the ship yet the lovers don't seem to be fazed by this important fact.
A man on board approaches Carlos and asks him if he knows his name and the name of his brother. He accuses Carlos of killing him. Carlos had served as a Youth Hitler member and was a ranking ping-pong player. He leaves a note for Lucy explaining exactly what went down. He was responsible for turning the man in when he was a boy along with his brother. His brother had in fact died in a concentration camp. All he wants from Carlos is for him to admit what he set into motion a half century earlier. Carlos either jumps or slipped on the ships top deck, either way it caused his death.
Lucy was mourning his loss when she met Joycelle. With HIV Joycelle needed a friend and Lucy becomes her caregiver moving her into her home. Although they are twenty years apart their friendship is solid.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that Lucy and Joycelle became good friends.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was at the end when Lucy and Joycelle have a heart to heart conversation.
Opinion about the main character:
I dislike that Lucy fell so easily for Carlos and his playa lines.