Star Cruise: Idol’s Curse by Veronica Scott
An unusual bequest….
Juli Shaeffer, the Nebula Zephyr’s cruise director, receives a mysterious bequest from the estate of a longtime passenger – a lump of rock taken from a reef on the planet Tahumaroa. Legend states anyone who steals from the ocean gods will be cursed. The passenger’s will requests the rock be returned to the beach so his heirs won’t be affected by the bad luck he believed he’d incurred. Juli doesn’t believe in superstitions and she agrees to carry out this small favor on the ship’s next stop at the planet in question.
Until the rock disappears from her office…
When the rock disappears and reappears in various locations around the ship, and seems connected to a steadily escalating series of mishaps, Juli turns to Third Officer Steve Aureli as the only one she feels she can trust. Along with Steve and his elderly Aunt Dian – a passenger aboard the Nebula Zephyr for this cruise – she investigates the strange series of malfunctions plaguing the interstellar luxury liner. Steve and Juli enlist his Aunt Dian’s dog, Charrli, a retired Sectors Z Corps canine, to help them track the missing rock as it moves about the ship.
Juli and Steve must find the rock, hang onto it and transport it to the planet’s surface, before the alien idol’s curse turns deadly. The attraction between the two of them grows as the threat to Juli becomes more and more focused. Can she carry out her task while he keeps her safe from the alien curse? Will the capricious alien idol bring them good fortune…or disaster?
From the author: This is a re-release of the 42,000+ word novel I included in the Pets in Space® 4 anthology, which is no longer available. No revisions or additions have been made to the original novel for this re-release. I have also now included a 4,000 word prequel story Butterfly Hair, in which the diva Azlaya arrives on board the Nebula Zephyr. This short story was a free reader magnet available only in the time before the anthology was originally published.