“Is that the truth?” Vivian asked warily.
“I’ll swear on my honor,” Hunter replied, raising his right hand in the air as if preparing to take an oath. His face was unusually solemn.
Looking at his serious expression, Vivian recalled the tenderness he had shown her all this time. She decided to take a leap of faith. After all, it’s still better to have one more person on my side than against me.
Vivian then flashed hunter a sunny smile. “Thank you.”
It was for the best that Evelyn wasn’t aware of her scheme’s collapse. Otherwise, her devious nature would have resorted to other machinations.
From day one, Vivian had always treated him rather brusquely. This was the first time that she’d actually smiled at Hunter. He was momentarily transfixed by it.
Thump! Thump! Thump! The throbbing of his heart echoed thunderously in Hunter’s ears.
With Hunter gaping at her thus, Vivian felt slightly discomfited. Her smile quickly vanished. “Little Pumpkin’s waiting for me. I’ve got to head back soon,” she hurriedly said.
“Oh, sure!” The spell was broken when Vivian spoke, and Hunter could feel his face flush from embarrassment.
As he crossed over to the captain’s seat, Hunter was inwardly cursing himself for his foolishness. Hunter thrived in surroundings full of women. He’d therefore never anticipated that a single smile from Vivian would set his heart aflutter.
At the same time, he was delighted. Hunter couldn’t even remember the last time he had felt moved by any woman. It felt both novel and exciting.
The speedboat hadn’t traveled far, and they were back at the cruise ship in no time.
As they approached the cruise ship, however, Vivian felt a growing sense of uneasiness. Something was amiss. It was noon, and there should have been all sorts of noise and laughter coming from the deck. Instead, not a single person was in sight. The entire cruise ship was blanketed in unusual silence.
“Do you feel that something’s off?” Vivian turned towards Hunter, asking doubtfully.
“What’s wrong?” Hunter stopped the speedboat and examined the cruise ship. “It seems…”
Before he could finish his sentence, an ear-splitting bang sounded from the cruise ship.
“Ahhh!” This was followed by countless shrill screams.
Hunter and Vivian looked at each other with a mix of panic and fear. What on earth’s happening on board?
“Good heavens! Have they run into pirates?” Hunter recovered his wits quickly.
Hunter had heard that pirates targeted cruise ships for the sheer number of rich and wealthy people that were bound to be gathered on board. However, he never expected to have the misfortune of running into them that day.
Hunter’s first instinct was to turn the speedboat around and steer off in the opposite direction, engines blazing. However, Vivian clung to him doggedly, refusing to let him do so. “Little Pumpkin’s on that ship! I can’t leave him. Let me board!” she begged.
“It’s too dangerous now. We have to leave quickly and get the police over here,” Hunter seized Vivian, who was trying to board the cruise ship. “If you go up like this recklessly, you might not even be able to avoid being killed, much less save Little Pumpkin!”
“But I can’t abandon him just like that!” Vivian’s face was etched with distress and fright. “Let me go up first. You can call the police afterward.”
Hunter felt torn upon hearing Vivian’s declaration. He hesitated.
“Get us over there now! I’m definitely going to board. Stop wasting time!” Vivian had worked herself up into a frenzy, her voice breaking into a sob. What if Little Pumpkin is already in danger right now?
“I’ll go with you,” Hunter said firmly. How could he, as a man, allow Vivian to risk danger all alone?
Hunter carefully moored the speedboat and tentatively boarded the cruise ship with Vivian.
The sight that rose before their eyes was not unexpected. The passengers were all kneeling in the main atrium, hands on their heads. A gunman stood before them menacingly, waving his pistol in the air to accentuate his threats.
However, Vivian could clearly see that the hand he was gripping the gun with was trembling. The pirate’s fierce expression had not quite managed to mask the fear in his eyes. Clearly, this was no seasoned veteran.