On the train from London to the port city of Hull, Lo distracts herself with research. She learns that Aurora owner Lord Richard Bullmer is only a few years older than she is, but highly accomplished and influential. He’s married to a beautiful young heiress named Anne Lyngstad Bullmer. Bullmer had had a privileged upbringing, but was orphaned and broke by the time he reached adulthood. He still managed to get through Oxford and create a successful dot-com start-up. Bullmer’s latest success is his ten-cabin cruise liner for luxury tours of the Scandinavian coastline. Lo studies the floor plan and hopes the boat won’t feel too claustrophobic.
Lo is impressed to learn that, although she’d assumed Bullmer had had his success handed to him, he has actually overcome adversity and forged his own path. She thinks that there’s more to Bullmer than his handsome Wikipedia photo suggests. In ironic foreshadowing, she also hopes she won’t feel trapped on the boat.
When Lo is dropped off at the port, she is shocked by the Aurora’s small size, which gives it the “disorienting image of a ship imprisoned in a bottle—tiny, perfect, isolated, and unreal.” As she crosses the gangway, Lo feels a brief sensation as if falling toward the water.
Lo is caught off guard when greeted by a beaming stewardess, Camilla, who knows her name and offers her champagne as she approaches the boat. The interior of the Aurora is overwhelming, filled with a curving staircase, marble and silk features, and an “eye-watering” chandelier. The chandelier’s dazzling light is disorienting, especially in Lo’s sleep-deprived state.
Every detail of the boat, right down to the personalized customer service, seems intended to dazzle guests with luxury from the moment they step aboard. Lo feels thrown off balance and out of her element from the start.
Another steward, Josef, ushers Lo to Cabin 9. The heavily carpeted corridor gives Lo a vaguely claustrophobic feeling. Inside the cabin, which is barely smaller than her London flat, Lo is instantly relieved by the light streaming into the room. She resists the pull of sleep by sitting on the cabin’s veranda until the yacht moves out of Hull harbor and into the North Sea. As the shoreline recedes, she hopes for a message from Judah, but there’s nothing, and soon reception is lost.
The feeling of being trapped continues to mark Lo’s experience on the ship. The size of her cabin reinforces the contrast between her normal life and the lifestyle of the Aurora’s wealthy clientele. As the boat leaves English waters and contact with land is lost, Lo loses touch with her loved ones, an ominous feeling.
An email from Judah, dated Tuesday (two days later), expresses concern that he hasn’t heard from Lo since the night she embarked on the cruise. He reassures her that he loves her and that she shouldn’t worry about their argument back in London. A second email from Wednesday, from Lo’s boss Rowan, asks Lo to check in, since Velocity hasn’t received any updates from her.
The emails at the end of the chapter, dated a few days after the story’s present action, create dramatic tension—Lo apparently doesn’t contact her boyfriend or her office after the first day aboard, and the reader is left wondering what’s going to happen that will prevent her from doing so.