Analyzing the cover: Uhhhhhh I don’t even know. The fake background is pretty obvious. Mary Ellen is the one in the swimsuit, since she’s the non-cheerleader on the trip? Isn’t it a little warm for these long-sleeved sweaters?
The cheerleaders have won a cruise trip to St. Thomas and San Juan after winning the Midwest Regional Cheerleading competition in Chicago the month before. They have to do three exhibits while on the ship. Patrick, Tony, and Duffy have come to Fort Lauderdale to see their girlfriends off, which seems really stupid and ridiculous unless they’re making a boys’ trip out of it after the cruise ship leaves.
Olivia is fooling around on the railing and falls in the water. She’s wearing a life jacket, and a redheaded guy jumps in and fishes her out. She feels like an idiot, but is more interested in finding out who the hot guy was that saved her. Olivia later spots the guy who rescued her and runs to introduce herself. His name is Michael, and it turns out he’s a dancer on the cruise. She offers to buy him a Coke for saving her.
Jessica meets an Italian guy named Aldo who works on the ship, and for some reason, she pretends to be French. She insists that they should only speak English to each other, and she does so with a heavy accent. The squad all gets in on the charade and helps her pretend she’s a French exchange student to Tarenton.
Peter meets an elegant, European, and rich-looking lady named Clare Petrov, who asks him to go to an art and antiques tour with her. She was previously with a guy named Karl Voronsky, and Peter wonders if that is her boyfriend or fiance. Later he runs into her on the deck, and she asks him to run to her room and get her sweater since it’s chilly. He does so, and sees that her room is very fancy and has lots of valuables. He brings her the sweater, and she says she’ll see him at the tour. Not that much later, she runs up to him and says her diamond watch is missing. Peter tells her he saw it when he grabbed her sweater. The next day, Peter goes on the art and antiques tour with Clare. They are told about Rajah’s Dagger, the most expensive item on the ship, valued at over $1 million.
Peter is upset when Clare doesn’t show up to the squad’s exhibition, as she promised, but she sends him a note and says she will be at their next performance. He and Sean are getting ready for their night performance when Sean finds a diamond watch in Peter’s drawer. A security officer has come into their room and catches them with it. Peter claims it was planted on him, but the officer does not believe him. Clare refuses to press charges against Peter, much to his relief. Peter wonders if Karl Voronsky is the one who planted the watch.
The ship docks at St. Thomas, and the squad spends the day walking around. Later, Mary Ellen tells Jessica, Olivia, Tara, and Hope that the Rajah’s Dagger has been stolen, and Peter is the top suspect.
Peter is questioned, but there’s no proof he did anything. The ship docks at San Juan the next day, and Hope asks Peter where Clare is. He says he hasn’t seen her. “I guess she doesn’t want any more to do with a thief.” The squad agrees to help find the real thief, keeping their eyes on Clare, Karl, and even other people like Aldo and Michael, much to Jessica and Olivia’s chagrin.
Peter talks to Clare and Karl, who claims the officer told him the Rajah’s Dagger was stolen by cutting the glass case it was contained in. Peter was also questioned about his knowledge of security systems, since whoever stole the item bypassed the alarms. Clare invites Peter to play gin rummy later and gives him a kiss goodbye, which makes him feel all warm inside.
Olivia is talking to Aldo and Jessica about how Michael got called in to talk to security. Aldo says Michael joined a gang when he was 13 and stole a bracelet from a department store on a “dare.” He was sent to military school and ran away, but found happiness when he became a dancer. His teenage theft has made him a suspect in the disappearance of the Rajah’s Dagger.
Sean sees Karl going into Clare’s cabin, and he bangs on the door to confront him. A masked figure comes up and hits him over the head with something. When he awakens, Clare and Peter are standing over him. Clare is holding a paperweight. Clare says she had sent Karl to get a deck of cards from her room. She and Peter came to look for him when he took too long. Peter and Sean report the assault to security. Later, Peter sees Karl throwing something overboard.
Sean tackles an old lady wearing the blue and white sweats that his attacker was wearing. She says she did find this outfit crumpled up in a corner next to her laundry, as if someone had taken it from her clothes and then returned it later. Hope and Tara want Peter to keep Clare occupied while they search her cabin. Peter is hesitant, and Sean interjects that he saw Karl throw something overboard. Oh, but wait, flip back a few pages, and – yep, it was Peter who saw Karl do that. Wish these facts could be kept straight.
Jessica has been feeling guilty about her French deception and wonders if her and Aldo’s love “hinges on a lie.” I’d say so. Then she overhears Aldo and his friend Nick talking about her. Apparently it’s the job of officers on the ship to keep guests happy. Aldo says Jessica is okay, he could have done worse, but he’s tired of being an escort service. Nick imitates Jessica’s French accent, and Aldo laughs. Jessica is supposed to meet Aldo for coffee, but instead she goes back to her cabin and cries. Olivia answers when he calls, and tells him Jessica isn’t there.
Tara and Hope search Clare’s cabin but can’t find anything incriminating. They return to dinner, where the security officer comes by again to ask Peter more pointed questions. Peter shakes out his handkerchief, and a red ruby flies out. The officer says the ruby is just like the ones on the Rajah’s Dagger.
Peter gets taken into security again. Sean is trying to sleep when someone comes into his cabin. He realizes it’s not Peter, as the person kneels down to slip something inside a drawer. Sean jumps on the person and they wrestle in the dark, but the person gets away. Sean calls security and finds a piece of black velvet with the imprint of a dagger in the drawer. Sean throws the item into the sea.
The next day, Mary Ellen says the security officer thinks Sean would say anything to clear Peter, but Peter is being released in order to perform in their cheerleading exhibition that night. Well, thank God for that.
Tara has an epiphany and gets Hope to go with her back to Clare’s cabin. She remembered seeing an old-fashioned porcelain doll that looked to be out of place with everything else in the room. Tara rips open the back of the doll’s body and finds the Rajah’s Dagger. Then, Clare and Karl appear in the doorway with a pistol pointed at Hope and Tara. Clare tells Karl to get the rope to tie them up. Karl tells them that he threw the glass cutter and gloves that he used during the theft overboard. They plan to be off the ship before anyone else, and will leave a note for the rest of the squad explaining Tara and Hope’s absence for the night. “We’ll be on our way to South America by the time they untie you.”
Hope kicks Clare’s hand, knocking the gun away. Tara knocks Karl off balance, and then the door swings open with the rest of the cheerleaders and the security officer rushing inside. Clare tries to rush out the door, but Peter restrains her. Clare and Karl are thrown in “the brig,” and the dagger is returned to a safe.
The next day, the squad is about to disembark the ship when Aldo runs over, asking Jessica where she’s been. She admits her charade of pretending to be French. “I just hate frauds, don’t you?” she asks pointedly. Aldo looks upset, and Jessica walks away. Sean tries to comfort her, but she says she’ll be just fine.
Other notes and quotes
- It is noted that Walt is still considered Olivia’s “other boyfriend” who wasn’t able to come to Fort Lauderdale like Duffy because he couldn’t get off work.
Author: Vivian Schurfranz
Next time on Cheerleaders… A computer dating project has the cheerleaders’ romances all mixed up! Read Cheerleaders #47, DATING.