Greg stared out at the shores of Cozumel, one arm around Lindsey and the other around Sara.
"Well, Linds, you may be grounded, and Sara may have a shiner, but this is just breathtaking!"
Sara adjusted her floppy red hat and took a step away from the ship's railing. The view from the top deck was, indeed, breathtaking, but she had been ready to get off the ship for hours. Grissom was going to meet her in the lobby at eight o'clock and the two of them had big plans to explore one of Cozumel's parks. She was anxious to see the plants and wildlife she'd been reading about in the past few days. She was also anxious to really get away from everyone and spend some uninterrupted time with Grissom.
"Breathtaking?" Lindsey repeated. "You know what would be breathtaking? Actually seeing you in the talent show tonight. You know–I don't get to go now." She paused. "You know what I also don't get to do?" She didn't pause. "I don't get to go to the water park with Charlotte."
"What do you get to do?" Sara asked, patting the girl on the shoulder reassuringly.
Lindsey groaned. "I have to go to a towel art class with mom this morning on the ship and then we're getting off the ship to go to some sort of pottery class."
"That actually sounds sort of cool, Linds," Greg offered. "You can teach me how to make my towels into kissing swans. I need a new life skill."
"I'm more than willing to trade spots with you," she pouted. "I'd love to go four wheeling with the guys. Well, except Nick. So maybe I could trade spots with Nick..."
"What is it with you and Nick?"
Lindsey tried to force a frown. "He's...Nick..." But it didn't work. Greg quickly detected something odd in the mix as Lindsey's lips began to curve the opposite way. The girl successfully battled the smile but the colour in her cheeks won out. "He's annoying."
Sara tried to hold back her own smile. "Annoying, huh?"
"Yes. Annoying. He's mean to Greg." Lindsey put her hands on her hips, and with an insistent nod to both Greg and Sara, she took off at a very quick pace.
"Oh yeah," Sara said, now grinning. "Nick is just such a bully."
Greg was confused, frowning. "How did I not see that coming?"
"Between the buffet and the talent show, you've been a busy guy."
Greg gave her a light smack and the two of them headed to the elevators. "You've been a busy girl," Greg replied. "When you're not with me, you're nowhere to be found. Must be all the great activities on board."
Sara smirked. "Well, maybe I have such a great time with you that I have to spend the rest of my time napping to recover!"
Greg chuckled. "Is that a compliment or an insult?"
Greg pointed at her forehead and cheek, partially hidden by the brim of the red hat. "I forgot to factor in the time it's now taking you to get your make up done. Cath's doing a great job; I don't think you need the hat."
They stopped in front of the elevators and Sara pressed the button. "I like the hat."
Catherine burst out of the elevator before Greg could reply. "Oh good, there you are." Catherine grabbed Sara's arm and pulled her into the elevator. Greg followed. Pressing the button for the ninth floor, Catherine began to spill. "I really need a favour, Sar."
Sara nodded. "For you and your make-up, anything!"
"I need you to take Lindsey for me today."
Anything but that, Sara thought silently. "Oh...okay..."
"I know you and...uh..." She stopped herself, glancing at Greg. "I know you have plans but it would just be for the morning and I can meet you at noon." Catherine took a breath. "I'd keep her in our room, but I don't want to completely ground her, just ground her a little–"
Sara cut her off. "It's okay, Cath."
"She won't be any trouble."
"Don't worry. She can come with me." The morning would be a lot different than she'd pictured, but she assumed that Catherine had a very good reason.
Catherine offered it as soon as they got out of the elevator on Deck Nine.
"They moved up my manicure and hair appointment."
Sara processed the words. "What?"
"Hair and nails. It's formal night again. They overbooked at the spa and now they're telling me I can't get in at all unless I come this morning. I was one of the last people to book."
Sara nodded, trying to decide if this was a good reason. "Okay..."
"My nails are just terrible right now and my hair is frizzy."
For Catherine, that was a disaster.
Sara assured her that she would take Lindsey that morning and meet Catherine at noon and then Catherine ran off to the spa, waving her thanks.
"I'll take Linds four-wheeling," Greg offered.
"Catherine didn't ask you to take Lindsey because you're going four wheeling. She's supposed to be grounded and I'm assuming that she thinks anything I do will be boring enough to fit the 'grounded' criteria."
"Yep." Greg patted her on the shoulder. "Well, think of it this way, Sar. Lindsey just saved you from ultimate boredom: getting stuck with Grissom and his boring self-led tour of the wonders of Cozumel!"
Sara had to laugh.
Think of it this way, Greg. That's what I wanted!
At eleven o'clock, Lindsey Willows decided that she'd had enough. She adjusted her sunglasses, placed her hands on her hips and loudly declared that they were, indeed, lost.
"We're not lost," Grissom replied calmly. "We've simply taken a short detour." He consulted his map again while Sara brushed the sweat off her forehead. The trail they were on was well-shaded by the thick trees but the humidity was intense.
"We've been walking in a circle for the last twenty minutes," Lindsey whined. "We're lost!"
"Lindsey, we're fine," Sara insisted. "We just need to get back to the main trail."
Lindsey sat down on a big rock and crossed her arms. "You don't know where that is, do you?"
"It's not far away."
Lindsey grumbled to herself and then took a sip from her water bottle.
"Let's go down here," Sara said, pointing at the trail to their left. I think this will take us where we need to be."
Lindsey sighed. "If it doesn't, we'll end up dying of heat in a forest in Mexico. Great. Just how I wanted to go."
"Lindsey, quiet. You're disturbing the wildlife."
"They like it."
Grissom and Sara exchanged a glance and wandered a bit further away from Lindsey and her rock.
"We have to get her back," Grissom said in a whisper.
"Don't worry, we will," Sara replied. "We're not totally lost."
"No, I mean she's driving me nuts."
"Oh," Sara grinned and then mouthed an apology.
"Not your fault," Grissom mouthed back. "Catherine needed help." He reached out to touch her cheek with his fingers, completely forgetting the young audience behind him.
"Do you two want to be alone?" Lindsey asked, just as Grissom and Sara turned to face her with wide eyes.
"Drink some more water, Lindsey," Grissom said, clearing his throat. "We don't want you to get as flushed as Sara." He grabbed Sara's hand and led her to another rock. He helped her sit down and then knelt down in front of her, pretending to help her through "heat stroke."
"She might already know," Sara whispered. "Since Catherine knows..."
"Yeah, but Cath wouldn't tell Lindsey," Grissom said. "Not yet. She respects us."
"If Lindsey just figured it out, it's really going to spread quickly." Sara pressed her lips together. Grissom used his water bottle to wet the small towel he had in his bag. He then pressed it to Sara's cheeks to cool her down. It was part of their cover, but thoughtful nonetheless.
"I don't think she suspects anything," Grissom replied, pressing the cloth to her forehead now, carefully avoiding her bruise. Sara glanced over his shoulder to see that Lindsey had already lost all interest in them and was sprawled across the rock, staring at the sky, and humming.
Sara grabbed his hand and pulled it from her forehead, squeezing it tightly. "Thank you," she whispered, wishing she could kiss him.
Grissom stood and then helped her to her feet. "Let's get Lindsey out of here," he said loudly.
"Sounds like an excellent idea, Uncle Gil!" she called back, still staring up at the sky.
Catherine arrived at the port's welcome centre at noon, sporting dark red nail polish and styled golden waves. On either side of her were Linda and Ellen, both sporting sundresses, sunhats and fanny packs. Brass was at a nearby bar, buying all four of them drinks.
"Gee, Cathy, we were so lucky to run into you at the spa," gushed Ellen. "Jimmy told us all about your job last night in the lounge and we just think you are the cutest little crime fighter in the entire Western hemisphere!"
"Thank you, Ellen," Catherine said with a small chuckle. She was starting to like these ladies, which scared her. "I'm glad we ran into each other too. It's nice to have some time just for us girls. We should–"
Out of nowhere, Lindsey grabbed Catherine by the waist and squeezed. "Hi Linds!" Catherine said, when she managed to get her breath back.
"We got lost!" Lindsey exclaimed just as Grissom and Sara arrived. "Uncle Gil found the right trail after like forty minutes. It was so hot I like almost fell down like five times." Lindsey took a breath. "And Sara got heatstroke!"
Grissom and Sara exchanged a look and then Sara smiled at Catherine. "Yes, but all is good now. No worries. She was great, Catherine."
Catherine stared at her daughter. "Was she?"
"Okay, well, thanks again Sara...and Gil."
Linda and Ellen were already busy pinching Lindsey's cheeks and telling her once again how cute she was so Grissom and Sara didn't say goodbye to their young companion. They just waved to Catherine and disappeared as quickly as possible.
Greg appeared in the spot that Grissom and Sara had vacated.
"Are you sure you don't want me to take Lindsey four wheeling?" he asked, gesturing towards Brass, who was carrying drinks with little umbrellas. "We didn't make it to the morning tour so we're just heading out now. You, Brass and the ladies can hang out all afternoon without having to worry about little Lindsey..."
Lindsey broke free from Linda and Ellen and grabbed Greg's arm. "Yes! Take me with you!"
"Lindsey, you're supposed to be grounded," Catherine reminded her. "You're with me."
"But mom, I already had to spend the morning getting lost with Uncle Gil and Sara. All they did was talk about plants, bugs and...heatstroke."
Catherine had to give her that. "Yeah, that probably wasn't enjoyable."
"It wasn't," Lindsey assured her. "It was definitely not enjoyable"
"Okay," Catherine relented, eyeing her umbrella drink. "But the grounding resumes when we get back on the ship and you listen carefully to all the safety instructions."
"I'll make sure she's got her helmet on," Greg assured Catherine before he and Lindsey took off.
Catherine shook her head as they disappeared into the crowd. "Great, now she'll think she can get out of being grounded from here on in."
"No she won't," Brass replied, handing her a drink. "Shall we head to the beach?"
Ellen nodded. "Yes, and Jimmy darling?"
"You'll have to be a dear and help me with my sun screen once we find some lounge chairs."
"Me too," Linda chimed in. "I'll definitely need a lot of help. Some places are just so hard to reach."
Brass grinned at Catherine. "It's nice to be needed."
"Oh I'm glad you feel that way." She handed him her heavy beach bag. "Thanks, darling."
"This view is breathtaking, isn't it?" Brass said, as he adjusted the beach bag on his shoulder.
Linda and Ellen, who had purposefully placed themselves directly behind Brass, loudly agreed.